Fear of wooded areas is known as xylophobia, also known as hydrophobia. Some people find that their fear is worse at night, while others have the same fear at all times of the day. Xylophobia is sometimes related to other phobias, such as animal fears, but it can also occur independently.
Some people are not afraid of forests but entering them because of actual or perceived dangers. For example, people with certain medical conditions may worry that they will not be able to contact a rescuer if they become ill or injured while walking alone.
Like some women and children, those who feel vulnerable may worry about being attacked by a human. Those who live in areas known to be attacked by bears or other animals may be concerned about coming into contact with a dangerous animal. By definition, a phobia is an irrational fear. If your anxiety is based on realistic concerns, it is not a phobia.
Although it is customary to worry about animal attacks in some areas, those with animal phobias typically have a heightened level of fear that is disproportionate to the situation. Also, some people fear forest creatures that pose little danger to humans, such as snakes or spiders. Animal phobias often increase the fear of the woods, and in some cases, they are the cause of xylophobia.
Fear of the dark
Some cases of xylophobia are rooted in fear of the dark. Heavily wooded areas are relatively dark throughout the day, with tall trees casting shadows on trails and clearings. Like animal phobias, the night’s anxiety can worsen an existing fear of the woods or even be the root cause of that fear.
Fear of the unknown
For some people, the fear of the forest is based on a fear of the unknown. Modern society offers few opportunities to return to nature, and relatively few people acclimatize to the great outdoors. Unusual sights, sounds, smells, and textures tend to unsettle us, making us feel wary. Wooded areas can be noisy with animal noises or eerily quiet. Wild plants often look very different from indoor plants. Walking through grass, mud, or dirt feels very different from walking on a paved road or sidewalk. Those with a fear of the unknown may be at higher risk for developing anxiety when exploring the woods.
You may also be interested in reading: Fear Of Motorcycles: Definition, Causes, Treatment.
How to cope with the fear of wooded areas
Fortunately, it is not necessary to identify underlying problems to combat the fear of the forest.
Knowledge and exposure may be enough to combat anxiety for a relatively mild fear. Research the area where you will be hiking or camping well in advance.
- Learn to recognize common plants and animals, trace a route, and keep a good map.
- Make an emergency plan and always let someone know where you are going and when you will be back.
- Consider seeking professional help with a more severe phobia.
Like all phobias, xylophobia responds well to a variety of treatment methods. However, if left untreated, the fear can worsen over time and even lead to additional phobias.
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