If the thought of or encounter with a large building, vehicle, or other object causes intense anxiety and fear, you may have megalophobia.
Also known as a “fear of large objects,” this condition is marked by significant nervousness that is so severe, you take great measures to avoid your triggers. It may also be serious enough to interfere with your daily life.
Like other phobias, megalophobia is tied to underlying anxiety. While it can take time and effort, there are ways to cope with this condition.
A phobia is something that causes intense, irrational fears. In reality, many of the objects or situations you may have a phobia to are unlikely to cause any actual harm. Psychologically though, someone with a phobia has such extreme anxiety that they may think otherwise.
It’s also normal to be fearful of certain situations or objects. For example, you might be afraid of heights or perhaps a negative experience with a certain animal makes you nervous whenever you encounter them.
The key difference between a phobia and a rational fear, though, is that the intense fear stemming from phobias interferes with your everyday life.
Your fears can take over your daily schedule, making you avoid certain situations. In more severe cases, you might completely avoid leaving the house.
Megalophobia may stem from negative experiences with large objects. Thus, whenever you see large objects or even think about them, you may experience severe anxiety symptoms.
You can also identify whether it’s a phobia versus a rational fear if the large object at hand is unlikely to put you in any grave danger.
Sometimes the fear of large objects stems from learned behaviors you grew up with from other family members. Phobias themselves may also be hereditary — however, you might have a different type of phobia than your parents have.
In addition to feelings of fear, phobias can cause the following symptoms:
- increased heart rate
- mild chest pain
- upset stomach
- vomiting or diarrhea
- shortness of breath
Overall, the primary underlying trigger for phobias like megalophobia is exposure to the object — in this case, large objects. Phobias may be linked to generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and social anxiety.
When you have this condition, you may be fearful of encountering large objects, such as:
- tall buildings, including skyscrapers
- statues and monuments
- big spaces, where you may have feelings similar to claustrophobia
- hills and mountains
- large vehicles, such as garbage trucks, trains, and buses
- airplanes and helicopters
- boats, yachts, and ships
- large bodies of water, such as lakes and oceans
- big animals, including whales and elephants
Typically, someone with a phobia is fully aware of their anxieties. There’s not a specific test for this phobia. Instead, diagnosis requires confirmation from a psychologist or psychiatrist that specializes in mental health disorders.
A mental health professional can identify this phobia based on your history and symptoms surrounding large objects. They will help you to identify the source of your fears — these most often stem from negative experiences. By identifying the experience as the root cause of your phobia, you can then work toward healing from past trauma.
You may also be asked questions about your symptoms and feelings surrounding large objects. In some cases, you might have a fear of certain large objects but not others. A mental health counselor can help you link your anxiety symptoms with the things you fear to help you work toward overcoming them.
Some therapists may also use imagery to diagnose specific triggers of your phobia. These include a variety of large objects, such as buildings, monuments, and vehicles. Your counselor would then help you create a treatment plan from there.
Treatment for a phobia will involve a combination of therapies, and perhaps medications. Therapy will address the underlying causes of your phobia, while medications will help decrease the severity of your anxiety symptoms.
Therapy options may include:
- cognitive behavioral therapy, an approach that helps you identify your irrational fears and replace them with more rational versions
- desensitization, or exposure therapy, which may involve images or real-life exposure to the objects that trigger your fears
- talk therapy
- group therapy
There are no FDA-approved medications to treat phobias. Your doctor or mental health professional may prescribe one or a combination of the following to help alleviate anxiety associated with your phobia:
- selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
- serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
While it’s tempting to avoid the large objects that cause fear with your megalophobia, this strategy will only make it more difficult to cope with your condition in the long-term. Instead of avoidance, it’s best to expose yourself to your fears little by little until your anxiety starts to improve.
Another coping mechanism is relaxation. Certain relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and visualization, can help you manage an encounter with the large objects you’re afraid of.
You can also adopt lifestyle changes to help with anxiety management. These include:
- balanced diet
- daily exercise
- yoga and other mind-body practices
- stress management
If you need assistance managing a phobia, the good news is that there are many ways to find a mental health professional. You can:
- ask your primary care doctor for recommendations
- seek recommendations from friends, family, or loved ones, if you’re comfortable doing so
- search online for therapists in your area by checking out their client testimonials
- call your insurance provider to see which therapists accept your plan
- search for a therapist via the American Psychological Association
While perhaps not as widely discussed as other phobias, megalophobia is very real and intense for those who have it.
Avoiding large objects can provide temporary relief, but this doesn’t address the underlying cause of your anxiety. A mental health professional can help with diagnosis and treatment so your fears don’t dictate your life.