A phobia is an intense, exaggerated fear of a particular situation or thing.
There are many types of specific phobias and each has a unique name that’s derived from Greek. Having a fear of birds is called ornithophobia.
Phobias are one of the most common anxiety disorders.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that over 12 percent of adults in the United States experience a specific phobia at some point in their lives.
If you have ornithophobia, you may experience intense anxiety when thinking about or being around birds. Read on to explore more about ornithophobia, its symptoms, and how it can be managed.
Phobias can develop at any age, although they often develop during childhood. What exactly causes specific phobias is still unclear.
Some potential causes can include:
- Personal experiences. If you had a specific incident or negative experience involving birds, such as being attacked by a bird, you may develop a fear of them.
- Observational learning. If your parents or someone else close to you has ornithophobia, you may learn that fear from them.
- Information learning. Reading or hearing about a negative or dangerous situation involving birds may cause you to fear them.
- Genetics. We all process fear and anxiety differently. Some people may be born with a tendency to be more anxious than others.
The symptoms of a specific phobia, such as ornithophobia, can be divided into two categories — psychological and physical.
You may find that you experience some of these symptoms when you think about or come into contact with birds.
symptoms of ornithophobia
Psychological symptoms include:
- an overwhelming feeling of anxiety or fear
- an awareness that your fear or anxiety is exaggerated, but being unable to control it
- feeling like you need to escape or run away
- fearing that you’re losing control
Physical symptoms include:
- racing heartbeat
- shaking or trembling
- feeling short of breath
- dry mouth
- pain or tightness in your chest
People with a specific phobia may also take measures to avoid their fear. For example, a person with ornithophobia may choose to avoid going to a local park that’s home to a lot of pigeons or waterfowl.
Meeting with a mental health professional can help you learn to manage your phobia. Treatment may involve one method or a combination of methods.
This type of treatment helps to teach you ways to cope with and react differently to situations that may cause anxiety or fear.
You may be taught some coping methods such as breathing or relaxation techniques, to use when you find yourself in an anxiety-inducing situation.
You’ll also learn how your thought patterns and exaggerated fear affects your emotions and behaviors. Your therapist will work with you to help change those beliefs in order to change your reaction to your fear.
Another part of this therapy process may be exposure therapy, which can also be called systemic desensitization. It aims to change your responses to an object that you fear and involves gradual exposure to your fear.
For example, your therapist may start with having you think about birds, progress to looking at pictures of birds, and move toward going near to or touching an actual bird.
Medications can sometimes help to reduce feelings of anxiety or panic that you may have due to your ornithophobia.
Some medications that may be prescribed include:
- Antidepressants. Antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are sometimes used to treat anxiety. Examples include Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft.
- Sedatives. Called benzodiazepines, these medications can help you feel relaxed and calm. They’re typically used on a short-term basis. Examples include Xanax and Valium.
- Beta-blockers. Often used to treat cardiovascular conditions, these medications can help with anxiety symptoms like rapid heartbeat.
A specific phobia such as ornithophobia can be managed if you receive proper treatment. When you receive treatment such as psychotherapy or medication, the outlook is good.
In order for the best results, it’s very important to stick to the treatment plan developed with your therapist. Working together with your therapist, you can overcome your phobia.
Ornithophobia is a fear of birds. People with ornithophobia experience intense, exaggerated fear or anxiety when thinking about or being around birds.
They often know that their fear is unreasonable, but feel as if they can’t control it.
Specific phobias such as ornithophobia can be treated through methods such as psychotherapy or medication. Receiving proper treatment and sticking to your treatment plan can help you control your phobia.