Phobia is a type of mental disorder characterized by an uncontrollable, lasting, and irrational fear of a certain situation, object, or activity. One of the strange phobias that have been discussed rapidly everywhere is known as anatidaephobia, which is described as the fear that a duck is looking at you. While often presented as an actual phobia, anatidaephobia is a phobia invented for comedic purposes, not a traditionally recognized specific phobia diagnosis like arachnophobia (spiders) or acrophobia (heights).
What Is Anatidaephobia?
Anatidaephobia originated with Gary Larson. Far Side Comic, defined it as: “The fear that somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you.” The definition was accompanied by a comic illustration depicting a woman alone in her home while a duck watches him from the window.
The purpose of the phobia (or, in this case, ‘faux phobia’) was to illustrate that any object or living thing can become a source of fear. Since Larson first introduced the concept, the concept of anatidaephobia has made its way into the popular consciousness and is now often presented as an actual type of phobia.
A quick Internet search reveals a plethora of websites either presenting the phobia as Larson originally envisioned it or simply mislabeling it as “fear of ducks.” The term Anatidaephobia originates from the name of the biological family of waterfowl that includes geese and ducks (‘Anatidae’) and the Greek word for fear (‘phobos’).
Anatidaephobia may not be real or officially recognized, but that doesn’t mean that fear of ducks or swans isn’t possible. Ornithophobia or fear of birds, is a very real specific phobia. The actual fear of ducks and swans would be represented as a form of ornithophobia.
Types of Phobias
Specific phobias are classified into one of five different subtypes:
- natural environment
- blood or injury
- Situation and more
Ornithophobia is a specific animal phobia. People who are experiencing this kind of phobia may afraid of all types of birds. While some may only have fear of a specific animal or bird.
Like other animal phobias, this fear often triggers by a negative encounter with the ducks or swans. For example, being chased, bitten, or attacked by a duck or a flock of ducks at your place may later lead to a fear of this type of bird. Or maybe you were a fan of Alfred Hitchcock’s movies as a child. Be scared of The Birds. Often we have no control over what triggers our fears. But we do have the ability to change our response to those fears.
Symptoms Of Anatidaephobia
When people confront the source of their fear, they experience feelings of uncontrolled anxiety. Common symptoms include:
- Pain in chest
- feeling cold
- rapid breathing and heartbeat
- upset stomach
People may go to great lengths to avoid the source of their fear, sometimes to the extent that it interferes with daily functioning.
A person may avoid certain places or even stop leaving their home to prevent any encounter with the feared object. In some cases, people may also suffer panic attacks. During a panic attack, fear symptoms become so severe that people may feel disoriented, isolated, or even feel as if they are dying.
Treatment Of Phobia
While anatidaephobia is not real, the fear of birds, including ducks or geese, can be severe and often debilitating. Fortunately, there are many ways for people who want to overcome their phobias and manage their symptoms. Effective treatments are available. Here’s an overview of treatment options.
Exposure therapy usually involves slowly and systematically exposing to a feared object in a safe and monitored manner, until the object triggers the fear response. This therapy for treating specific phobias and systematic desensitization is the gold-standard approach.
In the case of bird-related phobia, a therapist can gradually introduce bird sounds and pictures of birds, continually desensitizing you until you encounter a real bird without feeling the same feeling of debilitating fear.
Cognitive – Behavioural therapy (CBT), involves identifying problematic thought patterns that contribute to phobic reactions. Then, the person works with a therapist to replace these unhelpful thoughts with more realistic ways of thinking. The goal is to remove the anxiety response from the fear trigger.
Medicines are helpful way to get over your symptoms that caused due to your phobia. This may include the consumption of anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines, Buspirone or antidepressants.
How To Deal With The Phobia?
If you’re also suffering from the fear of ducks or any other type of specific phobia, there are some simple ways you can follow to make your anxiety more manageable.
- Practice Breathing Exercises: what makes you feel calm and happy? Practicing breathing exercises is the best way to make you calm when you feel anxious. Start practicing the breathing exercises. This can help your body return to feeling good.
- Imagine A Serene Scene: Imagine good scenes that help you feel good and calm, whether it’s relaxing on a sunny beach or relaxing in beautiful Mountains.
- Try To Distract Yourself: Spend time with your family & friends, go on a trip, cook your favourite dish, watch a movie, or focus your attention on something else that will help distract you from your fear.
- Keep Practicing: Start facing your fears, and don’t run away from them, so that you will be able to get into that comfortable position when facing the source of your phobia. This will make it easier to live with fear.
- Challenge Your Thoughts: If you stuck in thought patterns that contribute to fear, actively challenge those thoughts. Ask yourself if those beliefs are realistic. Try replacing those thoughts with more helpful thoughts, or positive ones to help deal with periods of anxiety.
If your fear is so intense that it disturbs your daily life, if it lasts for more than six months, and then you should worry, consider an experienced mental health expert.
Anatidaephobia may not be a real or recognized phobia, but still, fear of ducks or swans is a potentially serious issue. If you’re also experiencing anxiety or any other symptoms of any phobia then don’t ignore them. You should consult your health expert so that he/she can advise you about how to deal with your fear and find your treatment options.