What is Octophobia?

  • Eunice FestusBachelor's degree, Nursing Science, National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN)

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Introduction

Octophobia is also known as the fear of the number eight. People with such phobias may not want to do anything that involves using the number eight.1

If you are suffering from this condition, you may experience a very high amount of anxiety from just thinking of or seeing the number eight.2 In fact, your anxiety may be so intense that you may even endure a full-blown panic attack as a result of it.

Octophobia can cause a person to avoid the things they are afraid of. For instance, Someone with this condition may refuse to own eight of the same item, regardless of what it is (e.g., a spoon, book, and pen). Another example is that people with this condition may avoid living in a home that has the number eight on its address and may worry that it will get destroyed someday. 

Others would not want to wed on the 8th day of the month or the 8th month of the year (August). If the person glances at the number, they may get stunned by it, but if they gaze at it, they may panic, giving them a sense of helplessness.

Some phobias are quite well-known, such as claustrophobia3 (fear of small spaces) and arachnophobia (fear of spiders). 

However, less well-known phobias can have a similar detrimental impact on a person's life. The fear of the number eight, or octophobia, is one phobia that may not be as well-known but still has a big impact on the lives of those who experience it.

What are the causes of octophobia?

The exact cause of octophobia is not fully understood, like many other phobias. But it frequently results from a combination of environmental, genetic, and psychological elements, just like other phobias4

Childhood traumatic events involving the number eight, cultural beliefs or superstitions, or even learned behaviours from relatives who share the same fear could all play a role in the emergence of octophobia.

What are the symptoms of octophobia?

People with octophobia may experience symptoms of anxiety2 when they think about or come across the number eight.

  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Extreme feeling of dread or terror
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Profuse sweating
  • Rapid breathing and heart rate
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Shortness of breath

People with octophobia also exhibit certain behaviours, such as:

  • They avoid looking at things like street signs, clocks, computers, phones, books, bills, or receipts that have eight on them
  • They skip school or work because of the possibility of encountering the number eight
  • They stay at home or never go out because of fear of encountering the number eight
  • These behaviours can harm a person's relationships with others, career, and education, and they can also cause depression or substance abuse

How can octophobia be diagnosed?

Diagnosing octophobia involves a thorough evaluation of the individual's symptoms, medical history, and psychological profile.

A mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist can conduct this evaluation.

The diagnosis is typically based on the criteria described in the DSM-5, which provides the diagnostic criteria for specific phobias.5

To diagnose octophobia, a healthcare provider will look for an intense fear of the number eight that causes extreme anxiety as soon as the individual thinks about or encounters the number.

People with octophobia may fear the symbol eight as it appears written down, such as in addresses or advertisements, or they may fear objects presented in groups of eight.

It is important to note that octophobia is a rare phobia, and there are few other known phobias of specific numbers, except for the fear of numbers themselves (arithmophobia) and the fear of the number thirteen (triskaidekaphobia).

Impact of octophobia on social interactions and coexisting conditions

Octophobia can have a significant impact on an individual's daily life, limiting their activities and social interactions.

Anxiety2 associated with octophobia can interfere with education, job responsibilities, personal relationships, and daily tasks.

People with octophobia may avoid situations where they may encounter the number eight, such as social gatherings, shopping, or travelling.

Octophobia can also coexist with other mental health conditions such as anxiety disorders, 2 depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).6

It can impact various aspects of life, including personal relationships, job performance, and daily tasks.

It is also essential to diagnose and treat these coexisting conditions to improve the overall quality of life of the individual with octophobia.

What are the treatment options for octophobia?

Here are some of the most common treatments for octophobia:

  1. Exposure therapy: This type of therapy involves gradually exposing the individual to the feared object or situation, in this case, the number eight. The goal is to help the person become more comfortable with the object or situation over time7
  2. Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT): This type of therapy helps change negative thought patterns and behaviours. It can be helpful for treating phobias, including octophobia8
  3. Medication: In some cases, medication may be prescribed to help manage symptoms of anxiety or panic that may occur as a result of octophobia2
  4. Relaxation techniques: Deep breathing, meditation, and other relaxation techniques2 can help reduce anxiety and stress associated with octophobia

It is important to note that there is no cure for specific phobias such as octophobia, but treatment can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

Treatment for octophobia, such as exposure therapy, cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), and medication, can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.2,8

Home remedies such as deep breathing and mindfulness can also be helpful.

It is important to note that treatment may take time, and it is essential to work with a mental health professional to develop a personalized treatment plan.

Ways to cope with octophobia

Coping with octophobia can be challenging, but some strategies can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

Here are some coping and prevention strategies for octophobia:

  1. Seek professional help: A mental health professional can help diagnose and treat octophobia. They can also provide support and guidance on coping strategies
  2. Avoidance: Avoiding situations that trigger octophobia may provide temporary relief, but it can also reinforce the fear and make it worse over time. It is essential to work with a mental health professional to develop a personalized treatment plan
  3. Support groups: Joining a support group can provide a safe and supportive environment to share experiences and coping strategies with others who have similar fears

How can I prevent octophobia?

Preventing octophobia may not always be possible, but certain strategies may help reduce the risk or minimize its impact, these strategies include:

  1. Early intervention: Seeking help as soon as symptoms of octophobia arise can help prevent the fear from becoming more severe
  2. Education: Learning about octophobia and how it affects the body and mind can help reduce anxiety and fear
  3. Mindfulness: Practising mindfulness and staying present in the moment can help reduce anxiety and stress associated with octophobia2
  4. Healthy lifestyle: Eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and getting enough sleep can help reduce stress and anxiety

FAQs

Is octophobia common? 

Octophobia is considered a rare phobia because only a few people experience it compared to other common phobias.

Can octophobia be treated? 

Yes, octophobia can be treated. Using treatment methods like behavioural therapies, counselling, and relaxation techniques are some approaches that can help manage the fear of the number eight.

Can octophobia be outgrown?

There is no clear explanation of how octophobia can be outgrown, but with proper treatment and interventions, you can experience a reduction in your fear of the number eight over time.

Are there cultural factors contributing to octophobia? 

Yes, cultural beliefs or superstitions related to the number eight in certain societies could influence the development of this fear.

Is online therapy an option for treating octophobia?

Yes, online therapy platforms can offer accessible treatment options for individuals seeking help with octophobia.

Summary

Octophobia is an intense fear of the number eight that can cause significant distress and anxiety. Octophobia might not be as widely recognized as other phobias, but it can have a significant impact on those who experience it.

It can impact various aspects of life, but with proper diagnosis and treatment, you can learn to manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Early intervention, education, and support are essential to coping with octophobia effectively.

It is important to note that coping with octophobia may take time, and it is essential to work with a mental health professional to develop a personalized treatment plan.

References

  1. Samra CK, Abdijadid S. Specific phobia. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 [cited 2023 Aug 27]. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499923/
  2. nhs.uk [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2023 Aug 27]. Get help with anxiety, fear or panic. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/feelings-symptoms-behaviours/feelings-and-symptoms/anxiety-fear-panic/
  3. nhs.uk [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2023 Aug 27]. Claustrophobia. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/claustrophobia/
  4. nhs.uk [Internet]. [cited 2023 Aug 27]. The NHS website. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/
  5. Regier DA, Kuhl EA, Kupfer DJ. The DSM-5: Classification and criteria changes. World Psychiatry [Internet]. 2013 Jun [cited 2023 Aug 27];12(2):92–8. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3683251/
  6. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) [Internet]. [cited 2023 Aug 27]. Obsessive-compulsive disorder. Available from: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd
  7. https://www.apa.org [Internet]. [cited 2023 Aug 27]. What is exposure therapy? Available from: https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/exposure-therapy
  8. nhs.uk [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2023 Aug 27]. Overview - Cognitive behavioural therapy (Cbt). Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/talking-therapies-medicine-treatments/talking-therapies-and-counselling/cognitive-behavioural-therapy-cbt/overview/

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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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Eunice Festus

Bachelor's degree, Nursing Science, National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN)

Eunice is a Registered Nurse-Midwife With several years of experience. She combines her clinical knowledge with her passion for health writing to educate and empower others to lead healthier lives.

In addition to her professional roles, Eunice is also a virtual administrator and a content strategist.

Eunice has also worked with prominent healthcare organizations such the Society for Family Health, and the National Agency for the Control of AIDS.

Outside work, Eunice finds joy in spending quality time with loved ones and indulging in hobbies like watching movies, reading, and exploring new experiences.

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