Ochophobia – The Irrational Fear of Automobiles

There are many specific phobias that sometimes sounds unreal to several psychologists; however, this doesn’t take away the reality that these fears are existent. One of such phobias that sometimes sounds unreal is Ochophobia.

Ochophobia can be defined as the irrational fear of vehicles and automobiles as a whole. People who have this kind of specific phobia often fear anything vehicle that moves.

Patients who are suffering from Ochophobia are usually afraid of vans, buses, cars, bicycles, airplanes, and so on. Some may go extreme with their phobia by dreading anything that has wheels, including the cart used for shopping.

According to research, people dealing with Ochophobia often seem to deal with other related phobias such as amaxophobia (which is the fear of riding in a car), Motorphobia(fear of motors), and Siderodromophobia(fear of trains, train tracks, and traveling by train).

A person who has this phobia will begin to experience moments of anxiety as well as dread when inside or vehicle or standing behind it. Often, according to the record of psychologists who often treat people with phobias, it was recorded that many who have Ochophobia fear that being in a vehicle will cost them their lives, one part of their body, or make them stay in the hospital for a long period.

For some, it gets so bad that the mere thought of being near an automobile begins to cause them to have anxiety. Having Ochophobia can cause these people to have painful bouts of anxiety every day and make it extremely difficult for these people to travel.

Most people who have Ochophobia find it difficult to buy a car; hence they tend always to walk. Sometimes, while walking, they may begin to develop anxiety whenever they see another vehicle coming at a distance.

In most cases, people dealing with Ochophobia have been forced to depend on others for basic needs of survival, such as food and other resources, simply because of their inability to go out. People who have Ochophobia often try to relocate to rural areas or to the countryside where they can have little or no contact at all with automobiles.

This move is only part of their avoidance technique, and also experience a certain sense of relief from the anxiety they always experience. However, what they don’t realize is that moving to the countryside or to rural areas will only worsen their fear of vehicles and strengthening their resolve that automobiles are something to be scared of.

Also, someone who has constantly lived in urban areas but has to move to rural areas due to his/her fear will sooner or later begin to experience feelings of isolation and loneliness and, as such, have a higher tendency of slipping into depression.

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Causes of Ochophobia

As seen in the case of other phobias, there is no exact known cause for Ochophobia. However, there are different factors that can contribute to the development of this phobia. The majority of these factors have been grouped to form three major contributing factors, and they include:

Genetic factors

Every human is made up of genes. Genes are what makes us unique individuals. However, although we are different as humans, we get our genes from our parents; hence it is safe to say that we carry a part of our parents in us. This explains why we may look, talk, act, or behave like our parents.

Just as we get the genes of facial look, skin color, and others from our parents, we also get our mental genes from them. This is the reason why when a person has a parent or both parents who suffered from a mental illness such as schizophrenia or any anxiety disorder example, levophobia. The person has an increased risk of developing any mental or anxiety disorder, including Ochophobia.

However, it should be noted that although you have a higher tendency to develop an anxiety disorder as a result of an inherited gene from your parent, this doesn’t mean that you will develop that exact type of phobia from them.

For example, if your parents dealt with thanatophobia or levophobia, you may end up developing an entirely different phobia, including Ochophobia.

Environmental factors

Although one may have a higher risk of developing a phobia due to the already existent gene. However, as in the case of most phobias, before such a gene is expressed, there needs to be an environmental factor that will cause that gene to be expressed.

In other words, it is totally for a person to have the gene of having an anxiety or a mental disorder; however, because the gene is not triggered, the person goes through life without having any symptoms.

In most cases, the trigger is usually as a result of certain environmental factors that are at play. For some, a traumatic event that they have experienced while they were childhood or the stories they have heard and movies they have watched have triggered this gene to be expressed.

In the case of a person dealing with Ochophobia, the patient may have seen a highly graphic movie about someone who died tragically from an accident caused by a vehicle; this mental event will trigger the expression of this gene as such causing the patient to develop Ochophobia.

Some people may have experienced a near-death situation that involved a vehicle, which can trigger the genes already present in their genetic makeup.

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Brain Chemistry

Although not all psychologists agree to this, however, their brain chemistry might trigger the expression of fear in them for some patients. In every human, there is a part of the brain that controls emotions such as anger, fear, sadness, happiness, and so on.

If there is a malfunctioning of the chemicals present within the brain, it can affect any part of the brain, including the center that controls emotions. Once that place is affected, the person can have malfunctioning of his or her emotions, including fear. As such, the patient may develop Ochophobia.

Symptoms of Ochophobia

One of the major symptoms a person who has Ochophobia will experience is the feeling of intense anxiety. It is important to note, however, that the intensity of the anxiety experienced by the patient will depend largely on three factors:

  • Genetic factors
  • Rate of exposure to environmental factors(their triggers)
  • The severity of the phobia itself

While some patients may experience mild panic attacks, others may experience severe and full-blown attacks such that he or she might require hospitalization. Asides them having to face extreme bouts of fear and anxiety when in a vehicle, a person who has Ochophobia will experience the feelings of helplessness.

Most people who have Ochophobia will rather not see a vehicle or even go near one. Sometimes, it brings them to a certain point of feeling helpless because of their perception that whenever they drive or ride in a car, there will be bad things that will happen to them. These thoughts tend to bring their self-esteem to the minimum levels or even end up crushing it.

Another symptom a person who has Ochophobia will experience is Self-isolation. A person who has this intense fear of vehicles and automobiles will want to move to an area where little or no vehicles are seen. Doing this, the patient may tend to move from the modern world’s excitement into areas with little or no technological advancement to limit his amount of exposure to his/her trigger (automobiles).

Although some of these patients may end up realizing that their fear is irrational and sometimes out of touch with reality when in the middle of a panic attack, the patient will lose all his senses of logical reasoning and coherent thinking. This is because, at that moment, they are focused on what they are feeling and experiencing and not what their thoughts should be.

In most cases, a person who is dealing with Ochophobia can become obsessed with the statistical data of accidents, particularly those caused by automobiles. They tend to locate a pattern in these events and pick it up as one of their numerous illogical reasons of why they should be afraid of automobiles.

Generally, you would see a person who is dealing with Ochophobia have any of the following symptoms:

  • Intense fear and anxiety when inside a vehicle or close to one
  • Intense fear when an automobile is approaching the patient
  • Severe anxiety when thinking about a vehicle
  • The tendency to often isolate themselves from the outside world
  • Over dependency on others for resources such as groceries, running errands, and so on
  • Intense feelings of helplessness and despair
  • Excess production of sweat
  • Muscle tension
  • Severe tremors and trembling of both the arms and legs
  • Urgent and repeated needs to visit the toilet
  • Inability to relax and feel at ease

Treatment

Just as it is with other phobias, Ochophobia has no specific treatment plan. However, there are some methods that have been used over time and have seen to have numerous positive effects on a person .who suffers from Ochophobia.

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Mostly these treatments can be classified into the following:

Talk-therapy

Talk therapy, also known as therapy or counseling, is a time where the patient has a one-on-one talk with his or her therapist. This type of treatment has mostly been seen to have great effects on patients who have a phobia, especially Ochophobia.

This is because this period gives the patient opportunities to be able to be open and free with their therapists.

There are many types of therapies; however, there are two types of therapies that have been seen to have produced great results in patients dealing with Ochophobia, and they include;

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, often called CBT, is a form of therapy that helps give the patient insights on why they often have the kinds of reactions they have when faced with their phobia.

For a person who is dealing with Ochophobia, one of the questions that often plagues them is, “why do I have panic attacks when I see a vehicle?”. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy helps the patient understand why he/she has these reactions.

One major advantage of CBT is that it helps the patient understand why they act, behave, and think the way they do. Also, the patient is often resting assured that their therapist is a seasoned professional who can help them out of the dilemma they find themselves.

Generally, when a person who is dealing with Ochophobia is faced with his or her fear, their first reaction is to run away from their phobia. It is only a subconscious reaction; however, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy will help the patient be able to stop and analyze why he or she has that phobia as well as learn other skills that can help the patient cope better and relieve the anxiety that is often associated with their condition.

Exposure therapy

Exposure therapy is another very effective form of therapy that has overtime been recorded to have helped treat people who are dealing with Ochophobia. Just as the name implies, exposure therapy has to do with the therapist gradually exposing the patient to his/her fears, although this is mostly done in a controlled environment.

The aim of exposure therapy is to help desensitize people from their phobia. For people who are battling with Ochophobia, the therapist will start introducing him or her to the idea of automobiles. The therapist may start by showing the patient pictures of cars and other automobiles, thereby getting them used to the idea of coming in contact with vehicles.

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The use of Medications

For most therapists, the use of medications is often off the chart, and this is because most of these drugs are quite addictive. As such, they don’t encourage their usage. However, in certain situations, your doctor may need you to take certain drugs that will help deal with the side effects of the phobia you are experiencing; in this case, Ochophobia.

However, it is important to note that these drugs must not be taken without the doctor’s prescription. Some of the medications you may be given include:

Anti-anxiety meds

Anti-anxiety medications are drugs that are used to reduce the occurrence of panic attacks. One of the major side effects of Ochophobia is the development of panic attacks. Hence, your doctor will only prescribe anti-anxiety medications if the panic attacks they experience are severe.

Some of these medications include Klonopin, Xanax, Valium, and so on. These drugs are usually not taken daily because they are easily addictive, and a patient can develop a dependency on these drugs; hence, your doctor will put you on a prescription.

Antidepressants

One of the major side effects of Ochophobia is depression. Once the person isolates himself due to his phobia, depression will likely set in, and this can quickly become a complicated issue. Before you can take antidepressants, your doctor must be aware and give you a prescription.

Some antidepressants include Lexapro, Paxil, and Zoloft. Unlike anti-anxiety medications, antidepressants can be taken daily under a controlled environment.

Self-help

This is mostly not needed after the therapy had been carried out. However, a person suffering from Ochophobia is mostly encouraged to participate in other activities that can build his/her mind against their triggers and help them focus on getting better.

Some of these include activities include yoga, meditation, etc.

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