What Is Katsaridaphobia

  • Batoul Salamah Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy from Damascus University\Syria

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Do you run away when you see a cockroach or a similar insect? Does the look of these insects give you a revulsion and disgusting feeling, or do you feel terrified like it’s something going to kill you?

Well, you are not the only one, and sometimes it’s not just a fleeting revulsion feeling that could fade easily because you might be suffering from katsaridaphobia (cockroach phobia).

What is the meaning of the word katsaridaphobia?1

If we want to explain the word katsaridaphobia literally, it will be like this: Katsarida (κατσαρίδα) means cockroach in the Greek language, and phobia, as we know it, means the extreme fear of something.

What is katsaridaphobia as a medical condition?2

Fear of cockroaches, or katsaridaphobia, means that the affected people have a severe, unwarranted, and constant fear of cockroaches and similar insects; this fear happens as soon as they see a cockroach and even if the insect doesn’t make any move.

What is phobia in psychology?3

A phobia means an extreme, constant, illogical, and uncontrollable fear of something, which could be a living or nonliving thing or even a certain activity or situation.

The three main phobia types are

Specific (simple) phobia:

 This is the most common type of phobia; people here fear specific animals, people (clowns, for example), environments (like high places), or situations (like flying in a plane). This type can be genetic in most cases.

Social anxiety disorder (previously called social phobia):

In this type, people fear being in social situations where they could be judged, embarrassed, or humiliated by other people, especially if there are unfamiliar people, and that makes the affected person avoid being in social situations (like eating in restaurants). This type has been seen to develop in people who had negative experiences in their childhood.

Agoraphobia:

This type means the fear of being in a public situation where it is difficult to leave suddenly (like being in the movies or travelling by train, for example).

General symptoms of phobias include

Extreme and constant fear; the feelings are illogical and sometimes out of proportion; avoidance of the cause of the phobia; and physical symptoms resulting from anxiety (like palpitations, shortness of breath, sweating, tremors, dizziness, etc.).

Of course, the symptoms vary depending on the type of phobia and the affected person.

Back to our subject, as we have seen above, katsaridaphobia is a specific phobia because the affected people fear a specific thing, which is cockroaches.

Katsaridaphobia causes2

It has been noticed that there are different causes that could lead to katsaridaphobia, which are:

Environmental causes

Cockroaches are known to exist in dark places where they can find food, and we must have noticed that they run away when they see us because, as they say, they are afraid of us more than we are afraid of them; simply, they just want food and a good place to live and reproduce. However, it is completely normal to feel disturbed and sometimes a little afraid of them and other insects because of many possible causes. For example, when they accidentally crawl above us, whereas sometimes it is dark and they don’t know where they are walking, then this definitely makes us panic, disgusted, and sometimes, fear.

Biological causes

The feeling of disgust and panic might go back to our ancestors, who were well prepared to stay alert and attentive to any weird and maybe dangerous creatures that could crawl on them because they used to sleep in caves and open air.

Psychological causes

It is believed that, in most cases, people who suffer from katsaridaphobia might have had a traumatic or difficult experience in their childhood with cockroaches, and that could have affected them strongly. There are many ways in which children could have had these affective experiences; for example, if they are being punished in a closed and dark room, like the basement, and they see a cockroach there, or perhaps a flying cockroach land on them, this could make them terrified, and this feeling might be stuck with them for a long time. Another thing that could be a cause for developing this condition in children is that when children observe adults manifest extreme fear of cockroaches in front of them, then they could receive this fear from them.

Katsaridaphobia symptoms4

Katsaridaphobia, along with other types of phobias, could hit the affected people hard and make them suffer from extremely difficult, painful, and annoying symptoms, which could be emotional, physical, or mental.

The emotional symptoms

Having a phobia might lead to serious symptoms like persistent anxiety, and that’s because the affected people probably try to avoid the cause of their phobia, which, therefore, puts them in a situation of constant anxiety that they will face the cause of this phobia at any time; so, they become trapped in a vicious and endless circle of anxiety, which might lead to depression.

People with katsaridaphobia might suffer from physical and mental (psychological) symptoms.

The physical symptoms

Unfortunately, people with katsaridaphobia might suffer from panic attacks, which might be severe and sudden. These attacks might lead to many physical symptoms, such as

  • Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
  • Having difficulty breathing in addition to a tightness or pain feeling in the chest
  • Pain or tightness in the chest and difficulty in breathing
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Feeling faint
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Rise in blood pressure
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Hyperventilation
  • Numbness or pins and needles
  • Dry mouth
  • A need to go to the toilet
  • A sensation of butterflies in the stomach
  • Nausea
  • Hot flashes or chills
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • A choking sensation
  • Ringing in your ears

The mental symptoms

Psychological symptoms could be triggered in some extremely severe cases of katsaridaphobia. The affected people could suffer from these symptoms:

  • Fear of harm or illness
  • Fear of losing control
  • Fear of fainting
  • Feeling sad or hopeless
  • Feeling disconnected
  • Confusion, difficulty concentrating
  • Anger, irritability, mood swings
  • Feelings of dread
  • Fear of dying.
  • Guilt, shame, self-blame
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Anxiety and general fear

In some cases, a phobia can affect the whole life of the affected person and interfere with their daily lives, which might prevent them from living a normal life.

How to diagnose katsaridaphobia5

There is no specific katsaridaphobia test, but this condition is considered a type of entomophobia (an insect phobia or fear of insects). It is estimated that a person might have katsaridaphobia or entomophobia if this condition interferes with their daily life, like when:

  • Seeing or thinking about the insect stimulates the symptoms
  • The condition affects the ability to enjoy life
  • The condition prohibits the person from going to places where this insect could exist
  • The condition makes the person skip social events and gatherings
  • The condition abnormally aggravates feelings of anxiety and fear
  • The condition lasts more than six months

Katsaridaphobia treatment4

There are different procedures to treat katsaridaphobia, and the most important thing is that you must not hesitate to seek help regardless of your situation because sometimes avoiding the cause of the problem isn’t enough. Although there isn’t a specific or guaranteed treatment for each type of phobia, most phobias are curable. The treatment methods include

The talking treatment

This therapy is like counselling, in which the affected people talk to a highly professional specialist about their thoughts, fears, and feelings. This treatment could provide many benefits, like:

  • Helping the patients recognize if there is any problem in their thinking or acting and how to improve it
  • Giving the patients a safe space where they could talk and act without worrying about what people think of them
  • Helping the patients understand themselves better and express their feelings

Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT)

The CBT treatment depends on the effect of our thoughts on our behaviours, and that’s because anxiety and fear could corrupt our perceptions of reality and make us exaggerate. Consequently, the goal of CBT therapy is to explore the mind’s depiction of reality and improve it if needed.

Medication

In some cases, there might be a need for some medications to help the patient, along with other treatments. The three recommended types of medication are antidepressants, tranquilisers, and beta-blockers. Of course, you shouldn’t have any medication without a doctor’s prescription.

Taking care of ourselves:

The most important treatment is not being hard on ourselves and accepting our problems in order to be able to solve them.

Gradual exposure6

It is a traditional therapeutic procedure in which the patients are exposed gradually to the thing that fears them to change their response to this fear. This approach can be applied in vivo, imagined, or through virtual reality.

FAQs

What is the difference between katsaridaphobia and the general fear of cockroaches?7

Fear means an immediate response to something that is manageable and fades when the cause is gone, while a phobia is an anxiety disorder that is extreme and out of proportion, and the affected person can’t manage it.

How common is katsaridaphobia?6

It is estimated that about 19.2 million adult Americans are stricken by specific phobias, and it affects females more than males in a 4:1 ratio. Unfortunately, studies and ratios on katsaridaphobia are rare because most of the affected people don’t seek medical help, thinking that it’s a transient fear.

How to get over katsaridaphobia?8

In addition to seeking medical help, it is recommended that you help yourself to relax and try to think of anything that makes you calm and soothed. Also, you can find ways to get rid of cockroaches and keep them away from your house.

Summary

Phobias are one of the most prevalent disorders, and they can cause different symptoms.

Katsaridaphobia is an existing yet ignored phobia because people tend to think that it’s a normal fear while it might be a serious condition. That’s why it’s important to understand the difference between a normal fear and a phobia.

Curing katsaridaphobia might need more than one type of therapy. However, the most important factor in treating such conditions is the contribution of the patients and their willingness to help themselves.

References

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This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Batoul Salamah

Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy from Damascus University\Syria
Associate’s degree in Health Sciences from the University Of the People\United States

Batoul has significant expertise in various domains of pharmacy. For instance, she worked in several community pharmacies, where she worked directly with patients. She worked as a senior pharmaceutical representative as well, where she worked directly with doctors and physicians. And currently, she’s working as a freelance medical writer, where she puts her humble expertise into helping people get the correct information about their health and how to take care of it.

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