What is Anthophobia?
Anthophobia is an intense and persistent fear of flowers. People with anthophobia are afraid of all the flowers or have a fear of a typical type of flower.
Anthophobia is a rare type of specific phobia, a relatively common condition. It is estimated that specific phobia impacts 9% to 10% of people in the United States each year.(1)
Specific phobia is an anxiety disorder that leads to an extreme and overwhelming fear of a specific situation or an object such as a dog, spider, speaking, height, scissor, blood, or flower.
The fear caused by any phobia is significant and debilitating and can lead to stress and anxiety. People go over and beyond to avoid the things they fear and in the case of those with anthophobia, they tend to avoid flowers.
What Causes Anthophobia?
Just like any other phobia, anthophobia can occur as a result of a traumatic event or person involving flowers. For example, having seen a scary scene is a movie involving flowers, or witnessed a traumatic event where flowers were present.
It can also be due to genetic and environmental factors and individual brain chemistry.(2) It is unclear though if it’s due to genetic factors, learned behavior, or a combination of both.
Another reason for anthophobia is a loss of a person or a pet with flowers being a link somewhere.
Allergies caused by flowers can also be a reason for the development of this fear. In some cases, people develop fear and then forget why they have it.
Symptoms of Anthophobia
The most common symptom of anthophobia is a panic attack on seeing or thinking about flowers. There may be a feeling of complete powerlessness over the situation.
The following are the symptoms experienced by someone suffering from anthophobia.
- Rapid breathing
- Dry mouth
- Sweaty palms
- Racing heartbeat
- Excessive panic and fear making a person escape from the triggering event or object
- Shortness of breath
Someone with a phobia may become paralyzed with anxiety and trepidation and the phobia takes a toll on their daily life, relationships, and mental health.
Some people even might stop going out to avoid exposure to flowers. They avoid any place where they might see flowers such as funerals, weddings, restaurants, or anywhere else where the sight of flowers would cause panic.
How is Anthophobia Diagnosed?
Childhood fears gradually fade away, but the true phobias are persistent and worsen with time if left untreated.(2)
Anthophobia can be diagnosed by a trained mental health professional. They develop a treatment plan by evaluating the intensity of fear and the adverse effect of phobia on everyday life.
A psychotherapist, psychologist, and therapist specializing in treating phobia and anxiety disorder can treat anthophobia.
The healthcare professional considers the patient’s psychological and physical symptoms, triggers, avoidance and coping behaviors, family history, and other relevant considerations to come out with an individual treatment plan.
As anthophobia is not included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), 5th ed., the mental health professional would consider the diagnostic criteria for specific phobia or fear of an object.
Treatment for Anthophobia
The most common treatment for any kind of phobia is exposure therapy and cognitive behavior therapy. Both of these therapies prove to be effective in reducing symptoms and phobia.
In exposure therapy, the person with a phobia is repeatedly exposed to a source of the fear but in a controlled and safe environment and in the presence of the therapist.
Cognitive behavior therapy involves learning new ways to cope with fear and teaching technique to change negative thinking and behavior.
Along with the above two, medications are given by the mental health professional to treat anthophobia and related anxiety and depression.
The outlook of anthophobia is positive provided the treatment is being done by a qualified mental health professional. It is a rare condition but if you feel that being near flowers is bothering you or bringing in anxiety or fear, consult a mental health professional.
Early diagnosis can help treat the condition of anthophobia more effectively.