In this blog post, we will discuss what anatidaephobia is, its symptoms, causes, treatment and coping strategies

What is anatidaephobia?

The term anatidaephobia originated from the Far Side comic by Gary Larson, who defined it as “the fear that somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you.” 

Anatidaephobia is derived from the Greek word “anatidae”, (referring to ducks, geese or swans) and the word “phobos” that means fear. 

anatidaephobia

However, it does not mean the person suffering from this type of phobia is necessarily afraid of the duck or goose attacking them or even touching them, is the irrational fear of being watched or stalked by them.

Subsequently, this manifests as a form of anxiety. There are many different kinds of anxiety diagnoses, but one in particular gets a lot of attention due to its frequency and its severity: the diagnosis of specific phobias.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), phobias are described as an excessive and irrational fear towards a specific object or situation. There are currently 5 categories:

  1. Animal types (such as rats, snakes, spiders, etc.)
  2. Natural environment typed (such as thunderstorms, earthquakes, floods, etc.)
  3. Blood-injection-injury types (when seeing blood, getting a blood sample for medical purposes, witnessing medical treatments, etc.)
  4. Situational types (such as going into an elevator, going into an airplane, small spaces, etc.)
  5. Other types (such as the fear of choking, fear of contracting an illness or disease, etc.)
anatidaephobia
anatidaephobia

Causes of anatidaephobia

When presenting a specific phobia, as is the case of anatidaephobia, the precipitating factor (object or situation) has been associated to a negative or traumatic experience. 

Experiencing negative situations involving a duck or a goose is more common than it seems, since they tend to be aggressive by nature and attack without being provoked. 

Symptoms of anatidaephobia

When someone is exposed to their source of fear, the innate reaction is to experience both mental and physical symptoms. The most common are:

  • Sweating
  • Chest pain
  • Fear of dying
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Panic attacks
anatidaephobia

Coping with phobias

While anatidaephobia is not considered as a psychiatric disorder, the fear of birds including ducks or geese is real and can interfere with daily life activities. Fortunately, there are effective ways to help overcome phobias and manage their symptoms such as:

  1. Breathing exercises and meditation: closing your eyes and controlling or slowing down your breathing frequency will allow you to think clearer as well as feeling how your body reduces the physiological activity, when in the presence of the source of your fear.  
anatidaephobia
  1. Defy your thoughts: it is easier saying than doing it, but if you confront your thoughts with real life scenarios and outcomes your brain will start replacing the irrational and unrealistic thoughts with tangible ones. 

Additionally, if the fear becomes really intense, lasts for more than 6 months and disrupts your life’s day to day activities, you might consider seeking professional help who can determine the best treatment plan based on the severity of your symptoms.

Treatment

Phobias have been treated effectively by implementing cognitive and behavioral therapy techniques. One of the most used techniques for treating phobias is systematic desensitization, which consists basically in making a list of fears, ranking them and confronting them from the least fear-inducing until the most fear-inducing with the use of various relaxation techniques.

Even though in some cases medication has been suggested after persistent and therapy resistant symptoms, it won’t really treat the root cause of the phobia and will only provide instant relief from the symptoms.

Why is this blog post about anatidaephobia important?

Even though anatidaephobia is not classified as a psychiatric disorder, you should not ignore your symptoms. This blog can help you understand types of phobias, symptoms, causes and effective coping strategies. 

Please feel free to comment or ask any question in the comments section below!

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Anatidaephobia

Is Anatidaephobia a real phobia?

For those who suffer from Anatidaephobia sure it feels very real, even though it is not an accepted or a recognized mental or psychiatric disorder. 

What are some of the strangest phobias?

As strange as Anatidaeophobia might seem. There are even more strange phobias people suffer from and you might not recognize or know them by their names. Here are some of them:

Chaetophobia:

 is an uncommon phobia which causes an atypical and persistent fear of hair.

Ablutophobia

individuals with this specific phobia have an unreasonable fear of bathing or washing.

Oikophobia:  

is a term used in psychiatry to refer to an aversion to home surroundings. 

Somniphobia:  

this is an abnormal fear of falling asleep.

Ergophobia: 

 is an atypical and persistent fear of work or finding employment. 

Panphobia: 

is a vague and persistent dread of some unknown evil.

What are the most common phobias?

Maybe you have heard some of them or even relate to them. Here is a list of some of the most common phobias:

Arachnophobia: 

can be described as the fear of spiders and other arachnoids.

Agoraphobia: 

relates to the fear you can experience when feeling alone or left at a situation where escaping might be difficult.

Acrophobia:

it is described as the fear of heights or high places.

Social phobia:

relates to the fear of being exposed to social situations where it is likely to get humiliated or criticized by others.

Cynophobia: 

described as the fear of dogs, due to personal traumatic experiences or life events most frequently during childhood (such as being bitten) which can still be present during adulthood. 

Can phobias kill you?

No, phobias can’t actually kill you but some people have even described their phobia as if they were actually dying from a heart attack or having trouble breathing and feeling like choking from experiencing a panic attack. 

Recommended reading

Want to learn more about phobias and anxiety?

References

How behavioural therapy is used in psychology.

What Is Anatidaephobia?

Is Anatidaephobia a Real Phobia

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