In this blog post, we will discuss the nature, causes, symptoms and treatment of Anthophobia.
Anthophobia is a kind of phobia that involves an intense fear of flowers. Flowers are generally considered as mood alleviating and a beautiful presentation of emotions, but even these pose a threat to some people. Its prevalence is not bound by age or gender.
It could be that a person suffered from a bitter experience that involved flowers and developed an intense aversion or a fear, or the fear established out of a severe allergic reaction or a health condition. Treatment and therapies are available to treat this condition along with any other anxiety related condition.
Anthophobia is the irrational fear of flowers stemming out from a traumatic event in the past that concerned flowers. It is a type of specific phobia.
Flowers are one of the most beautiful creations of nature with attractive appearance and pleasant odors. Worldwide flowers are used for displaying an array of emotions, from joy, love, gratitude and support.
It is baffling that something which is supposed to have a calming effect on our senses can have such adverse effects as fear and dread. Anthophobia!
Causes of Anthophobia
The cause of Anthophobia is the same as with all other anxiety related specific phobias. They usually are the repercussions of an early memory or an unpleasant experience that caused pain. Therefore, for the development of phobias it is important that a pairing be done. Pairing between a specific object or situation with an unpleasant feeling such as fear.
- Sensory Processing Issue
It could be that a person has a sensory processing issue related to touch (tactile) and smell (olfactory) that instils a discomfort. This discomfort if unidentified, can manifest itself as fear or aversion. This could be the case in people suffering from Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
- Traumatic Event
Another, yet a very common etiology of Anthophobia is suffering from a traumatic event that instigated fear or pain in the person. When a specific event is coupled with an emotional experience then a permanent emotional association is formed between the two. This leads to behaviors that gets consolidated over the years through reinforcement.
In children this manifest as excessive crying, temper tantrums and defiance. In adults it takes the form of avoidance of the object with a display of panic symptoms. Bees and thorns are also a part of flowers and when people get stung by bees while either smelling flowers or holding them, or get pricked by thorns.
Flowers are used at festivities as well as at funerals. The experience at such an event or the associated emotion with it can also lead to the development of Anthophobia.
At the death of a loved one, like parents, spouse or a significant other, the person can experience extreme sadness and this could be paired with the flowers present at the respective grave or during the funeral ceremony. At the mere sight of flowers after that, the person can go into a full-blown panic attack or displays intense fear. This fear could be the loss that has been incurred or it could be a fear of dying itself!
- Allergic Reaction
Flowers are most commonly associated with allergies. The moment the Spring season arrives, the allergic reactions sky rocket. People develop rashes, have flu like symptoms and even asthmatic attacks when exposed to pollens or allergens from flowers. These allergic reactions are very hard to cope with and there is a connection between allergies and mood disorders.
In 2013, a team of researchers found that not only were allergies associated with an increased prevalence of anxiety and other mood disorders in adults, but people who had been treated for their allergies were less likely to have mood or anxiety disorders than those whose allergies went untreated. People with pollen allergies usually suffer from anxiety as well.
Allergies trigger the release of stress hormone, cortisol that suppresses or inhibits the feel good hormone, serotonin. This could lead to the development of Anthophobia in people who are allergic to flowers.
Children often replicate the fears of their parent/s as they show attachment towards them. If they have intense fears chances are that the child will also develop the same.
Symptoms of Anthophobia
The most common symptoms of Anthophobia are the ones that resemble an anxiety attack. These occur when the person is exposed to the fear object, that is flowers of either a particular kind or generally any kind of flower. The symptoms can be observed and the person suffers from the physical implications as well. For this reason, they try to avoid going near flowers or places where flowers can be expected.
This leads them into isolation to an extent and can cause depression in some cases.
- Increased heart rate
Heart beats at a rate of 60 to 100 beats per minute, but in Anthophobia when the person experiences fear the heart rate can spike up to more than 100 beats a minute. Medically, this condition is called Tachycardia. The person can feel the pounding in his chest, may feel dizzy, and nauseous.
- Shortness of breath
This occurs when the person feels a constriction in his throat and a sensation of choking. He tries to gasp for breath as if ridding himself from drowning. This is common in phobias and occurs in Anthophobia too.
Irritability is a state of mind where the senses over ride in anticipation of a feared incidence or object, in this case the fear of flowers. The mood of the irritable person is sour and they either break down at every small thing or display outbursts of anger.
In Anthophobia the mind is so occupied with the fear itself or the object of fear that they seem distracted, are unable to focus on things at hand and seem to be functioning on another level.
- Feeling of dread
In Anthophobia the person is always suffering from a subjective feeling that something bad will happen. They start to dread each day that any moment the feared object will be exposed in from t of them. This feeling of dread forces them to self-isolate.
Treatments of Anthophobia
Anthophobia can be treated through different treatments. These include Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Exposure Therapy (Systematic Desensitization), Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction MBSR) and forms of meditation.
Let’s take a look at these forms of treatments.
- Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
In CBT the therapist helps the client to modify his thoughts so that a desirable behavior can be achieved. This therapy is effective, because if the thoughts or cognitions alter then there will be a lasting impact on behavior.
This therapy is goal oriented and short termed. Therefore, the results are seen soon. It changes the way a person thinks and feels. CBT does not focus on probing the past to resolve current problems, rather it concentrates on the present situation. Our thoughts determine how we act or react to certain stimuli and situations.
It can be in individual therapy sessions or in groups sessions teaching strategies that can be beneficial in daily life.
- Systematic Desensitization (Exposure)
This is one of the most common therapies used in treating phobias. In this therapy the client with phobia is exposed to the phobic situation or stimulus gradually with varying durations of time. Every time the ‘exposure’ of the feared stimulus is increased.
In Anthophobia the client is exposed to flowers either through a walk in the garden or placing flowers in front of him, starting from one flower to a bunch.
It is a type of behavior therapy developed by Wolpe in the 1950s. The aim of Systematic Desensitization is to remove the ‘feared stimulus’ and substitute it with a ‘relaxation response.’
Initially a relaxation technique that involves deep breathing is taught to the client. Then the client is asked to present a list that has a hierarchical presentation of his fears, starting from the least fear evoking situation to the most.
The exposure to the phobic stimulus is of varying durations, where the client exercises relaxation techniques and can revert to a previous non-threatening situation any time.
3. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
MBSR involves being aware of one’s own thoughts, feelings and reducing the interference from around the environment. We do not pay attention to how we process the various stimuli that affect us. We do not process the way our bodies feel and respond, there is no focus on our thoughts and how these thoughts are influencing our emotions.
In MBSR, the client is ‘woken up’ to actually experience the various senses. ‘Focus’ is the keyword!
In Anthophobia treatment, the client is made conscious to pay attention to his thoughts when he is in the presence of the phobic stimulus. Awareness helps to alleviate the stress symptoms.
They learn to watch or name their thoughts, how the thoughts unfold physically in front of them. Therefore, when the person suffering from Anthophobia is taught to watch his thoughts, he is better able to see for himself what he is scared of.
The client is taught to pay attention to his breathing –inhalation and exhalation.
For meditation to be effective during treatment, the mind is cleared off all the clutter of random thoughts. The mind and body are made to be ‘in sync’ with each other, so that the feared stimulus does not invoke a negative thought. The client will meditate during the exposure to flowers and with practice either in imagery first will be able to relieve himself of the symptoms.
5. Self-Help Groups
Self Help groups are an effective type of therapy, in which the client does not find himself as a lone sufferer. These groups are individuals who are afflicted with the same types of phobias. They come together to share their thoughts, experiences and their coping strategies.
This also helps in developing a ‘sense of I am not the only one’ suffering. Thus, the chances of self-improvement and catering to own anxieties for ramifications becomes effective.
6. Changing Lifestyle
Breaking down the monotony of the daily helps break down anxiety as well.
- Take up jogging or go for daily walks:
Developing a walk routine can damper the way our negative thoughts control our behavior.
- Indulging in an exercise regime:
Vigorous exercise like aerobics has proved to reduce or alleviate the symptoms of stress and anxiety.
- Altering eating and drinking habits:
Cutting down on fatty foods and caffeine can improve self-image, that in turn leads to a raised self-esteem. This finally diminishes the symptoms of stress to a bare minimum. With high intake of caffeine, the body resembles a ‘fight or flight’ response, thus giving way to anxiety.
- Improving the sleep cycle:
When we get proper rest, our concentration improves and indulging in negatives lessens. In Anthophobia, the client is asked to alter his sleeping patterns so that improved sleep pattern can be developed.
FAQs about Anthophobia
- Would a person be terrified of a flower Why or why not?
A person can be terrified of flowers if they are thorny or have an unappealing texture or odor. But they can only develop Anthophobia or an irrational fear of flowers if this fear hinders their normal functioning.
- What is the fear of sunflowers called?
The fear of all flowers, including sunflowers is called Anthophobia. It is derived from the Greek word ‘Anthos’ meaning flower and ‘phobia’ meaning fear.
- Does everyone have a phobia?
Almost everyone has one fear or the other. But these fears do not affect their daily life activities then they do not border on to be called phobias.
- What is the fear of flowers called?
The fear of flowers is called Anthophobia. This fear inhibits the person from being involved in
- What is the fear of roses called?
The fear of roses is also called Anthophobia. People are mostly afraid of roses because of the prickly thorns attached with it.