What Is Xylophobia?

  • Fatima Zehra M. Phil in Pharmacy, Hamdard University, Pakistan


Xylophobia is an irrational fear of wooded areas. It is also known as hylophobia. Some people find that their fear is worse at night, while others are equally afraid at all times of the day. Xylophobia can cause physical unrest, with symptoms such as racing heart rate, chest pain, palpitations, shortness of breath, chills, sweating, hot flashes, dizziness, tensing of the muscles, nausea, shaking, and body aches. Emotional implications can also rear their ugly head in the form of anxiety and prevent you from moving forward. If you think you might be suffering from xylophobia, you can take a quick quiz here.1


Xylophobia is an irrational fear or anxiety around wood or wooden objects. People with this phobia may avoid wooden furniture, houses with wooden interiors, and even parks with a lot of trees. In severe cases, they may experience panic attacks, sweating, trembling, or a rapid heartbeat when exposed to wood. While xylophobia is not a common phobia, it can be treated with therapy, medication, or exposure therapy.


The causes of xylophobia are not known, but it is believed to be a type of specific phobia, which is an excessive and persistent fear of a particular object, situation, or activity. Some potential causes of xylophobia could include:

  1. Traumatic experiences: People who have been exposed to traumatic events related to wooden objects or surroundings may develop xylophobia.
  2. Genetic factors: Some research suggests that there may be a genetic predisposition to developing specific phobias, although more research is needed to ascertain this.
  3. Learned behaviour: People may develop xylophobia if they have learned to associate wood with danger, for example, if they were constantly warned as a child about the risk of splinters or wood rot.
  4. Anxiety disorders: Xylophobia can be a symptom of an anxiety disorder such as panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder.
  5. Other psychological issues: People with a history of other mental health issues like depression or post-traumatic stress disorder may be at a higher risk of developing disease.


A diagnosis of xylophobia can be made by a mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, who will conduct a thorough evaluation of the individual's symptoms and medical history. The diagnostic process may include:

  1. Physical examination: The doctor may perform a physical exam to rule out any underlying medical conditions that could be contributing to the symptoms.
  2. Psychological evaluation: The mental health professional may conduct a psychological evaluation, which may include interviews and questionnaires to assess the severity of the phobia and how it affects daily life.1
  3. Diagnostic criteria: Xylophobia is typically diagnosed according to the DSM-5 (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition) diagnostic criteria for specific phobias.
  4. Duration and impact: The doctor will take into consideration the duration of the symptoms and how they impact daily life.
  5. Differential diagnosis: The doctor may also consider other conditions with similar symptoms, such as panic disorder or agoraphobia (the fear of being in situations that are difficult to escape).

It is essential to be open and honest with the medical practitioner during the evaluation to arrive at the correct diagnosis and appropriately plan for treatment.


Treatment for xylophobia typically involves a combination of psychotherapy and medication. The following are some common treatments that can be used to manage xylophobia:

  1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is a type of talk therapy that helps in identifying and changing negative and irrational thoughts that reinforce phobic fears. CBT is an effective treatment for xylophobia and other specific phobias.
  2. Exposure Therapy: Exposure therapy is a type of CBT that involves gradually exposing the individual to the fear object in a controlled environment. This technique helps to desensitise the individual to the fear of wooden objects and furniture.
  3. Medications: Anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines and antidepressants can be prescribed by a medical professional to help reduce anxiety symptoms and panic attacks.
  4. Relaxation Techniques: Relaxation training using progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, and meditation can help manage the anxiety and panic attacks associated with xylophobia.
  5. Hypnotherapy: Hypnotherapy is an alternative treatment approach that involves using hypnosis to alter an individual's thought processes and reduce anxiety. This technique is often used in combination with cognitive-behavioural therapy or exposure therapy.

It's essential to consult with a medical professional to identify the best course of treatment. If left untreated, xylophobia can cause significant distress and interfere with an individual's daily life.


Since the exact cause of xylophobia is unknown, there is no sure way to prevent the condition. However, the following measures can be taken to reduce the risk of developing xylophobia:

  1. Identify and address other mental health conditions: Anxiety and depression are recurrent mental disorders that can increase the risk of the development of xylophobia. Identifying and treating these disorders can help in reducing the risk of developing xylophobia.
  2. Educate children about wooden objects: Xylophobia is commonly developed in childhood. Educating children about wooden objects at an early age and encouraging them to interact with them may help in reducing the risk of developing xylophobia.
  3. Avoid traumatic experiences: Traumatic experiences such as witnessing the death of a loved one involving wooden furniture can increase the risk of developing xylophobia. Avoiding or managing such experiences can reduce the risk of developing xylophobia.
  4. Exposure therapy: If an individual has mild anxiety or a phobia, gradually exposing themselves to the fear object can help desensitize their fear and anxiety. This kind of exposure should be done under the supervision of a mental health professional.
  5. Early intervention: Seeking help from a mental health professional at the onset of anxiety or phobia symptoms can help in managing the symptoms before they escalate and turn into a more severe disorder like xylophobia.

It's essential to understand that prevention measures don't guarantee avoidance of the condition. Therefore, individuals who think they may have xylophobia should seek professional help for diagnosis and treatment.2


Xylophobia is an irrational and persistent fear of wooden objects and furniture that can interfere with daily life. There is no known cause of xylophobia, and its treatment involves a combination of psychotherapy and medication, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), exposure therapy, anti-anxiety medications, relaxation techniques, and hypnotherapy. Prevention of xylophobia includes identifying and treating other mental health conditions, educating children about wooden objects, avoiding traumatic experiences, exposure therapy, and early intervention. Seeking professional help for diagnosis and treatment is crucial.


  1. Xylophobia(Fear of wooden objects or forests) [Internet]. Psych Times. [cited 2023 Oct 10]. Available from: https://psychtimes.com/xylophobia-fear-of-wooden-objects-or-forests
  2. Robinson M. Xylophobia: symptoms, causes and treatment [Internet]. ITS PSYCHOLOGY. 2017 [cited 2023 Oct 10]. Available from: https://itspsychology.com/xylophobia/
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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Fatima Zehra

M. Phil in Pharmacy, Hamdard University, Pakistan

Fatima is a Pharmacist and Freelance Medical Writer with working experience in Pharmaceutical,
Hospital and Community Sector. She is passionate to educate people about health care. She has a
great interest to communicate complex scientific information to general audience using her
experience and writing skill.

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