Tapeworms are segmented flat worms that resemble a measuring tape, thus the name tapeworm. It is a parasitic organism that lives in the intestines of some animals, causing tapeworm infection.
While animals can get infected when grazing or drinking contaminated water, humans get infected by eating undercooked tapeworm contaminated meat.
Tapeworm infection can cause a range of disturbing symptoms, and like certain infections, it is feared. However, when fear of tapeworms becomes extreme and irrational, taeniophobia is said to have been developed.
Taeniophobia is the extreme fear of tapeworm. With a handful of unpleasant symptoms, this condition can be life-limiting when severe. Fortunately, it is treatable.
The term taeniophobia originated from the Greek words “taenio,” which means “tapeworm” and “Phobos,” which means “fear.”
Taeniophobia is referred to as a specific phobia, which is defined as the irrational and intense fear of tapeworms.
Taeniophobia, also known as Teniophobia, is associated to the terms “Helminthophobia” and “Vermiphobia” which means “fear of being infested with worms,” and the word “Scoleciphobia” meaning “fear of worms.”
Causes of Taeniophobia
Generally, experts believe that phobias are a result of some predisposing factors which can contribute to the development of the condition. These factors are as follows:
- Heredity and genetics: Experts believe that if specific health conditions can be inherited from an ancestor, then it is very much possible that phobias, including Taeniophobia, can be inherited too.
- Presence of other phobias: The presence of other phobias could lead to the development of Taeniophobia. Phobias such as Helminthophobia, Vermiphobia, and Scoleciphobia can cause taeniophobia due to the strong relationship between them.
- Unpleasant experiences: Trauma is noted as one of the most common causes of phobias. An unpleasant event can leave an indelible mark on a person which can go a long way in denting the life of a person. Taeniophobia is likely to develop after going through tapeworm infection or even sight of tapeworm.
- Background upbringing: They say that the environmentof an individual has a significant influence on the well-being, beliefs, and attitudes of the person. A child that grows up in an environment where there are several cases of tapeworm infection. The awful sight of people being sick with a tapeworm infection may lead him or her to believe that tapeworm is dangerous. A sensitive child may even hear stories, including ill-informed ones, and may develop an irrational fear of tapeworm.
Experts suggest that the development of this condition may be a result of the above-mentioned factors.
Symptoms of Taeniophobia
In phobias, symptoms experienced vary depending on the degree of fear that the person feels. These symptoms can come in the way of someone’s usual day-to-day lifestyle. The social life of the sufferer is highly affected too.
These symptoms manifest in two forms, physically and psychologically.
People with Taeniophobia frequently have panic attacks when triggered. The panic attacks that they experience can be so frightening that it puts the sufferer in a state of distress.
Although sufferers have to be triggered before they experience some symptoms accompanying this condition, these symptoms can come anytime without any warning.
Panic attacks can be so overwhelming to an individual that they cause bodily reactions such as:
- Excessive sweating
- Hot flushes
- Difficulty breathing
- A choking sensation
- Rapid heartbeat
- Sharp chest pain
- A feeling of butterflies in the stomach
- Headaches and dizziness
- Feeling faint
- Nerve numbness
- Dry mouth
- A need to go to the toilet
- Ringing or buzzing in ears
- Increase in blood pressure
In a handful of very severe cases, when a patient is exposed to anything that can cause him or her to get triggered, the following are psychological effects experienced:
- Fear of losing control
- Fear of fainting
- Feelings of dread
- Fear of death and dying
- Fear of harm or illness
- Guilt, shame, self-blame
- Withdrawing from others
- Feeling sad or hopeless
- Feeling disconnected
- Confusion, difficulty concentrating
- Anger, irritability, mood swings
- Anxiety and fear
There are also rare cases that affect people, which is called “Complex phobias.” Complex phobia is like a chain of phobias linked together. This could be so overwhelming that it would make the individual not to have the ability to live a normal life and maintain a healthy social life.
Once such persons are triggered, he or she is bound to have a chain of the symptoms mentioned above, including depression.
Treatment of Taeniophobia
Same in other phobias, sufferers always feel the need to avoid encountering their source of fear. This would mean that they won’t get triggered, but sometimes, this is difficult and likely impossible. Mind you that most times, you cannot escape your thoughts.
No treatment available is guaranteed to cure phobias, but therapy and medications may be adopted to help you recover. Majorly, it depends on the individual and the severity of the condition.
In treating taeniophobia, professional help is needed. A mental health worker may be consulted to help you overcome taeniophobia.
Meditation is a relaxation technique that helps in calming the mind, allowing the practitioner to escape negative thoughts and obtain inner peace.
While you take deep breaths, your mind is being channeled to something more positive and productive.
You may sign up for a support group including a DBT group. Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a six-month program consisting of classes that teach people a lot of coping skills on how to have better control of themselves when faced with the source of their fear.
You may also get signed up for the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)program, which is an eight-week program consisting of group sessions where mindful meditations are practiced. Later on, a group discussion is held for everyone to talk about mental health.
In this program, you get to meet people like you, and with the support from the group coach, you will pull through and eventually recover.
Meeting with a mental health professional can help you recover from Taeniophobia. By keeping up with your scheduled sessions with your therapist in a serene, comforting, and discreet environment will contribute to your recovery.
Your therapists are likely to use this approach below to achieve the desired aims:
Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT): Experts suggest that our thoughts and perception have a substantial and consistent influence on our behavior. The constant experiences of anxiety, mental stress, and distress influence your attitude and distort it over reality.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy helps you identify those negative thought patterns and unhelpful distorted perceptions, which causes you to fear and then equip you with strategies to help overcome them.
Use of medicines
The use of medicines is not the cure of taeniophobia, but because of their calming effects, they are used to help suppress the symptoms of the Taeniophobia. The following are the two types of medications used in the treatment of phobias, specifically Taeniophobia.
- Anti-anxiety Drugs: This is a family of medicines known to lower anxiety by forming bonds with the receptor cells of the brain (which are responsible for these extreme symptoms). Anti-anxiety drugs include Valium.
- Anti-depressant Drugs: This family of drugs is widely used to treat depression, but they are regarded as useful in the treatment of phobias. This is because they are known to reduce anxiety. They include medicines such as Lexapro.
Note: These medications are to be used only when prescribed, and the instructions of the prescription should be followed strictly. These drugs are likely to cause some side effects to some people. They should be prescribed to be used short-term only because long-term use can result in addiction and dependence. Do not self-medicate.
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