Megalophobia is characterized by an irrational fear of large objects, which can encompass various entities such as skyscrapers, animals, landmarks such as mountains, and more. The manifestation of megalophobia varies among individuals, with some being comfortable around certain large objects but distressed by others.
Learn more about megalophobia, including how it’s treated. While this phobia can be a persistent issue on your own, with proper treatment from a skilled therapist, megalophobia fears can be successfully managed and life can be lived relatively symptom free.
What Is Megalophobia?
As explained above, megalophobia is a phobia of large objects that are both inanimate and animate. Common megalophobia-related objects include:
- Large animals
- Large vehicles such as a plane or bus
- Bodies of water
- Water vessels
- Massive indoor spaces (e.g., stadiums, gyms, convention centers)
Megalophobia can sometimes be confused with other phobias, such as acrophobia (fear of heights). For instance, individuals might report a fear of height rather than the size of the building itself. Another scenario could involve discomfort in large spaces rather than fear of the crowd.
Due to its name, megalophobia can also be confused with other phobias like arachibutyrophobia (fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth), spectrophobia (fear of mirrors), and decidophobia (fear of making decisions).
Symptoms of megalophobia may include any of the following:
- Feelings of anxiety and fear, especially around the feared object(s)
- Rapidly beating heart
- A strong avoidant urge in relationship to the feared object or animal
- Muscle tension; common areas include the chest, neck, hands, and legs
- Feelings of nausea
- Panic attacks
- Sweating or chills
- Needing to go to the bathroom at an irregular rate due to peeing or diarrhea
The physical manifestations of fear and anxiety have the potential to significantly worsen an individual’s condition, thereby creating additional challenges in their day-to-day life.
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What Is Megalophobia Caused By?
Megalophobia may develop for several reasons, including:
- Learned behavior(s): Megalophobia may be inherited by witnessing extreme discomfort or panic in a caregiver. Observing a parent, grandparent, or teacher expressing fear can contribute to the development of megalophobia.
- Traumatic experiences: Childhood traumas may lead to the formation of megalophobia. For instance, a child falling off a boat during a dolphin-searching trip can create a lasting association, causing the child to perceive all boats as unsafe.
- Genetic factors: Genes play a crucial role in predisposing individuals to various mental health conditions. The presence of specific genes can increase susceptibility, influencing the development and manifestation of mental health disorders.
The triggers of a megalophobia may include:
- Physically seeing, smelling, or otherwise sensing the feared object or animal
- Having thoughts about the object
- Thinking about an event or place that might include having to get on the feared object or go into a large space
- Seeing an object that is closely related to the feared object, such as a bus ticket or schedule
It is important to note that sometimes it can be tricky to identify certain triggers without a professional, especially with megalophobia. Because there is some overlap between megalophobia and other phobias, it may take some time and a therapist’s assistance to figure out what type of phobia someone is experiencing.
This is especially true when a person is processing a panic attack and they may not explicitly remember what detail it is that got them activated.
Is There Testing for Megalophobia?
Unfortunately, there is no formal test or assessment to help identify megalophobia. However, there are various anxiety assessments, such as the Hamilton Anxiety Scale and the Beck Anxiety Scale, that can be used to help track progress in therapy.
What Different Treatments Can I Take for Megalophobia?
The following are different treatment options commonly used for those suffering from megalophobia:
- Emphasizes acceptance, observation, and decision-making aligned with values
- Helps clients evaluate and decide whether to follow distressing thoughts
- Encourages mindfulness practices for increased self-awareness
- Creates real and imagined situations in which clients are exposed gradually through an exposure hierarchy to the stimuli and are able to use their mindfulness and grounding skills to effectively manage and regulate experienced emotions.
- This therapy can be lumped as an intervention or co-intervention of CBT
- Involves naming physical surroundings and identifying calming sensory elements
- Example: Listing favorite albums alphabetically for effective self-regulation
- Incorporates deep-breathing exercises for immediate anxiety relief
- Alleviates panic attacks and general anxiety related to the fear.
- Not a cure but supports longer calm periods, allowing the application of therapy skills for success.
- Collaboratively decided upon with a mental health professional based on individual needs.
These treatment options, individually or in combination, aim to empower individuals with megalophobia to lead fulfilling lives. By embracing these approaches (and finding a provider who specializes in treating phobias), individuals can confront their fears and embark on a transformative journey toward resilience, growth, and renewed self-confidence.