Fear of chickens or alektorophobia is a rare disease characterized by an intense fear of this type of bird. The word comes from the Greek words ‘alektor’, which means rooster, and ‘phobos’, which means fear.
It is considered a specific phobia. This refers to an irrational fear of a specific object, place, or situation. People with phobias generally understand that their fear is irrational, but they are unable to control their intense physical or psychological reaction.
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What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of specific phobias vary from person to person. In some people, a phobia can cause mild fear or discomfort. For others, it can involve debilitating panic attacks. Depending on where you live and work, alektorophobia can impact your daily life and cause significant distress.
The symptoms of alektorophobia occur when you are exposed to chickens or when you only think about them. Symptoms include
- Immediate and intense fear
- Great anxiety
- Fast heart rate
- Chest tightness
- Difficulty breathing
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Shaking or shaking
Children with alektorophobia may experience:
- Clinging to parents
Who’s turn is it?
Certain things make some people more likely to develop this phobia. Risk factors include:
Where you currently live or grew up: If you live or grew up in a more rural area with lots of chickens, you are more likely to be afraid of them.
Your age: Specific phobias typically appear by the age of 10, but can occur later in life.
A terrifying experience: People who experienced or observed a traumatic event involving chickens are more likely to have alektorphobia.
Your family history: If someone in your family has this phobia, they are more likely to have it too.
What causes it?
Doctors are still unsure of the exact causes of specific phobias. Also, many people with specific phobias cannot remember how, when, or why their phobias developed. However, the following can cause some cases of alektorophobia:
Negative experience: Many animal-related phobias stem from a negative experience with that animal, even if you cannot recall the experience. For example, you may have found an aggressive chicken when you were very young and forgot about it.
Genetics and environment: Young children learn many behaviors from their parents, including those related to fear and anxiety. If your parents were anxious around chickens, you may have noticed their behavior when you were young and developed a similar reaction.
How is it diagnosed?
To make a formal diagnosis, your doctor can use the new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The DSM-5 has criteria that distinguish phobias from typical fears and other anxiety-related conditions. For alektorphobia, this list includes:
- An immediate feeling of intense fear, panic, and anxiety almost every time you see a chicken or think of chickens
- Feeling of anxiety that worsens when you know that you are about to meet a chicken.
- Doing everything possible to avoid seeing or thinking of chickens
- Feeling a sense of fear that is out of proportion to the actual threat chickens pose to you
- Symptoms that interfere with your normal daily functioning at home or at work
- Feelings of fear and anxiety that last at least 6 months or avoiding chickens for at least 6 months.
- Feeling of fear and anxiety that cannot be related to another mental health condition, such as post- traumatic stress disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
How is it treated?
Exposure therapy is the main treatment option for specific phobias. The goal is to desensitize the chickens. You work to gradually introduce chickens into your life by thinking about them, looking at photos, or watching videos. Virtual reality technology is also becoming an increasingly popular tool for exposure therapy.
As you learn to control your fear and anxiety, you will gradually progress to physical exposure to real chickens.
Cognitive behavioral therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of behavioral therapy that can help reduce anxiety. It involves working with a therapist to learn to identify your own irrationally fearful thoughts and replace them with more rational ones. It is often done in conjunction with exposure therapy.
Medications for fear of chickens
Specific phobias rarely require long-term medication, unless accompanied by other disorders, such as generalized anxiety or depression. Medications can also be helpful for people who have difficulty with exposure therapy.
The most commonly used medications include:
Anxiolytics: Benzodiazepines, such as alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium), can reduce anxiety levels and prevent panic attacks.
Beta-blockers: These drugs block the effects of adrenaline, which floods your system when you are anxious, causing your heart to beat and your hands to shake.
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