Sometimes referred to as Antho, Anthophobia is an extreme and typically irrational fear of flowers. While it is oftentimes misunderstood as a fear of all plants, or of nature in general, that is simply not the case. Most people who suffer from Anthophoia are only afraid of flowers; they generally do not have an aversion to fungi, non-flowering plants or trees. However, they will shy away from flowering trees and other plants that do bloom and may end up abstaining from venturing into nature, as they have no desire to be near what they are afraid of. Some Anthophobics’ fear of flowers is so intense and debilitating that they prefer to remain indoors, so they are not forced to face their fears. Perhaps the worst part of Antho is that its sufferers usually understand that flowers are harmless and that they are not in any danger- however, they cannot help being fearful. Thankfully, this is an extremely rare phobia that only affects a handful of people worldwide.
As with any phobia or fear, it is difficult to say exactly what signs and symptoms an individual with Anthophobia will exhibit. Some people only experience a slight sense of dread and uneasiness, whereas others may experience a full-blown anxiety attack. A few sufferers have reported sensations of terror, losing control of themselves and even doom when they have been near. or have even smelled, flowers.
Fear is a subconscious way for an individual to protect themselves and it is believed that sufferers may have experienced something emotionally traumatizing that involved flowers before they became Anthophobic. While children who are stung by bees when smelling flowers in a garden may exhibit Anthophobic tendencies until they understand what happened, it can become a lifelong fear; for funerals could be a trigger, as could an allergy to pollen. However, there are some instances that simply cannot be explained, as some people do end up developing a fear and cannot remember why they they are afraid- just that they are.
Anthophobia is not a condition that can be treated through medication; as it is a phobia. However, some sufferers have reported that anti-anxiety medications can help them stave off and lessen the effects of panic attacks. It is important to note that medication can only lessen the severity of the symptoms and cannot actually cure the condition itself. While treatments vary greatly from person to person, it is possible to utilize a therapist’s help to control the condition, even if they cannot cure it.
The most popular therapy is behavioral therapy, which is used to attempt to disassociate the phobia from the cause; convincing the sufferer to view and think about the situation from a different angle. The sufferers will be rewarded and encouraged for good behavior, such as not panicking when they are looking at a vase of flowers; however, if the sufferer’s response is negative, they will receive negative reinforcement. Behavioral therapy is actually a form of controlled conditioning, which is a treatment that has been around for an extremely long time and has proven to be successful for numerous conditions.
Once an Anthophobic is able to convince themselves that there are no negative connotations to associate with flowers, they will be able to control their phobia. Along with behavioral conditioning, sufferers will learn several different relaxation techniques to help lessen the severity of their attacks. While relaxation techniques will help to alleviate the symptoms an Anthrophobic person experiences, they will not cure the underlying problem. However, there are no risks or side effects when an individual learns relaxation techniques; unlike medication, which can cause chemical dependence and other issues.
As with all treatment methods, sufferers should be aware of the fact that behavioral conditioning is not an instantaneous cure. It will take them some time to trust their therapist and then to gain the confidence to overcome their fears. However, given enough time and patience, as long as they listen to the advice that has been given to them, they will be able to overcome what was once a debilitating condition. They have to be willing and able to do what is asked and expected of them, otherwise they will not be able to overcome their phobia.