If you or someone you know tend to experience intense fear and anxiety whenever a large object is nearby, then you or that person may have megalophobia.
When it comes to phobias, people experience an irrational and overwhelming fear that causes the person inflicted by the phobia to avoid the situation, object, or place. The main difference between a type of phobia and general fear would be that the fear caused by phobias interferes with a person’s daily life because they would go to great lengths to avoid a situation.
A phobia can cause stress that could take its toll on the body and severe phobia could negatively affect how a person lives their life.
Learning about a particular fear will enable you to take the necessary steps to overcome it.
So what is megalophobia?
What Does Megalophobia Mean?
Megalophobia is the fear of large objects. An person who experiences this anxiety disorder will get triggered when they think about or see huge things especially when they’re in a scenario that involves scale.
For example, a very tall building beside a small bicycle or person could set off megalophobia.
What Causes Megalophobia?
Bad experiences, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) involving large objects can cause megalophobia. So when a person sees big things, especially if their scale is pronounced, then they will exhibit severe symptoms of anxiety.
More studies still need to be done in terms of what causes a person to fear large things.
What Can Trigger Megalophobia?
Exposure to large objects can set off megalophobia especially if the scale is highlighted by a much smaller object.
If you or someone you know have this condition, then these things can cause anxiety:
- Skyscrapers and huge buildings
- Large animals especially elephants and whales
- Airplanes, boats, yachts
- Big and overwhelming spaces
- Large statues
- Figures that can make the individual feel small
How Common is Megalophobia?
Although the population of people with phobia range from 2.6 percent to 12.5 percent across countries, Megalophia is generally a rare phobia. The top three phobias are arachnophobia or fear of spiders, ophidiophobia or fear of snakes, and acrophobia or fear of heights.
An individual with megalophobia can exhibit the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Vomiting or an upset stomach
- Mild to severe chest pain
- Increase in heart rate
How is Megalophobia Tested?
Someone who has megalophobia is aware that big things make them anxious. It is diagnosed by running the individual through a series of questions about their past experiences, history, and symptoms.
A person has to have consistent fear and anxiety of huge objects for six straight months before being diagnosed with megalophobia.
Just like other phobias, there are four general criteria for diagnosis which are:
- Experiencing an excessive, unrealistic sense of dread and fear in response to the phobic object or situation.
- Avoiding situations that may be dangerous, challenging, embarrassing, or uncomfortable. For example, someone afraid of needles can be found avoiding doctors and if they’re forced, can have panic attacks as a result.
- Cripples them and limits their function in their everyday life. In this case, the fear or anxiety is out of proportion to the actual danger that the phobic object or situation poses. The degree of anxiety could vary depending on the situation and the person. It could be anticipatory anxiety or a full-blown panic attack depending on how long they’re exposed to the stimuli or how many people are around them.
- Experiencing distress due to phobic concerns. They dwell on past scenarios and dread possible situations in the future. They call these situations phobic stimuli. When they say marked fear or anxiety it means that the reaction the individual has on the phobic stimulus is particularly severe.
Dangers of Having Megalophobia
People who have a phobia may live in fear every day of their lives. They are afraid that something bad will happen to them at any time.
A person with a phobia, no matter how irrational it seems to others, feels very real terror and apprehension. This is because the part of the brain that controls emotions and memories is in a different part of the brain than logical reason.
Sometimes people who suffer from phobias realize that their fears are irrational and their avoidance is excessive, but they feel unable to break free from the phobia’s grip. So even if you tell them that they’re acting irrationally, it wouldn’t help them control their emotions.
People who suffer from a specific phobia avoid what they fear and endure great distress when faced with the feared object or situation which can cripple them and hinder them from living their lives normally.
For megalophobes, being exposed to large objects, something as normal as a skyscraper, could cause a panic attack because of the overwhelming anxiety they feel.
The upside is that there is treatment, although it will take time, there is hope in overcoming this fear.
When you’re having a phobic reaction what happens inside your brain is that the amygdala recognizes a situation or an object to be dangerous. Your hypothalamus then triggers your fight or flight response. Then, the hippocampus takes note of your fear.
Your breathing gets quicker and you start to sweat, there’s also more glucose in your blood – increasing your energy. For the average person, the pre-frontal cortex or the rational part of the brain calms the amygdala down, but if you have a phobia, this doesn’t work. Your brain is stuck in its fight or flight mode.
How do you start managing a phobia like megalophobia?
Megalophobia can be treated by participating in psychological treatment such as exposure therapy or cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Alternately, you could also see a psychologist in order to relieve the emotions that are causing your problem. Both of these treatment options are usually very effective and yield long-lasting results.
In some cases, it’s necessary to take medication temporarily to offset symptoms like constant anxiety or fear while undergoing therapy.
For people with megalophobia, exposure therapy is one way that psychologists help people overcome their fears.
During therapy, the patient may start out by looking at pictures of large objects with the psychologist or therapist. Next, they might work up to looking at and being near large objects in real life. The exposure happens slowly, building up over time—which is tailored to the person’s unique needs as an individual.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a kind of psychological treatment and can be used to treat many phobias including megalophobia. CBT involves talking with a medical professional to help the individual gain perspective in stressful situations. Here the person with the phobia learns how to respond more calmly and effectively when facing the things that cause them stress or incite fear.
Medication is another treatment option but it should be strictly under the advice and supervision of a physician.
If therapy is too overwhelming or stressful for you then you may want to try medication for a short time to help you get started and go through therapy.
Phobias are not uncommon. Many people experience them and have successfully overcome them with the right treatment.
Avoiding your fears is never helpful or productive. Instead of avoiding, you have to learn how to manage the fear instead of the other way around. Aside from treatments, you can learn relaxation and meditation techniques that could help you calm down and manage your encounter.
If you find that the fear of large objects is giving you a handicap, dictating how you live your life and is stopping you from living a happy life, consult with a professional and regain control.