Fear of spiders, or arachnophobia, is an intense or irrational fear of spiders and/or other arachnids, such as scorpions.
People suffering from this type of phobia will go to extreme lengths to avoid situations where they might encounter a spider or other arachnid. This avoidance will frequently impact on the person's personal life by avoiding tasks like hanging up or taking down washing, constantly checking for spiders in clothes, or worrying excessively about the possibility of encountering a spider. Encountering a spider by chance could lead to intense fear or even feelings of panic.
EFFECTIVE TREATMENT IS AVAILABLE
Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can help us re-engage with these situations and teach us specific skills and strategies to cope with the anxiety. This approach allows us to face our fears in a safe, gradual way.
Asking for help is the first step.
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Tips for overcoming Arachnophobia
Here are some quick tips you can use to overcome your fear of spiders:
- Learn more about spiders. Most spiders are not venomous or dangerous, and even the ones that are, may not be aggressive towards people.
- Learn how to manage anxiety. Skills like controlled breathing and progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) are powerful tools to combat anxiety.
- Stop avoiding situations. When we avoid or leave situations that cause us anxiety, we reinforce the anxiety response. Try to stay in the situation until the anxiety subsides. It might feel like it would take forever, but often only takes 10-20 minutes.
- Stop using safety behaviours to cope. Safety behaviours are things we do to try and cope in the short term, but keep us from learning that we can manage anxiety in the long term. Safety behaviours can include drinking alcohol to relax the anxiety, having another person do things for us like hanging up the washing, or needing to check under everything before we go to bed.
- Make an exposure hierarchy. Seek out situations that cause you a mild amount of anxiety (e.g. a 10 or 20 on a scale of 0-100, where 100 is the scariest situation imaginable). Stay in this mildly uncomfortable situation until the anxiety subsides.