What Does Agrizoophobia Mean?The term combines three different words from Ancient Greek: "Phobos" means "fear," "zoo" means "animals," and "Agri" means field. In other words, agrizoophobia is fear of animals who live in a field or, more generally, outside. Agrizoophobia is a little more specific than zoophobia, which is a fear of all animals. If you have agrizoophobia, you may be fine around domestic animals, such as dogs or cats, or livestock, such as horses and cows. However, you may experience anxiety at the mere thought of animals such as sharks or wolves. The animal doesn't necessarily have to be large or predatory for you to experience anxiety over them. Smaller animals, such as raccoons, mice, squirrels, or bats may also trigger symptoms indiscriminately.
What Causes Agrizoophobia?Like most phobias, agrizoophobia may stem from a traumatic event in which you were attacked by a wild animal or you witnessed an attack against someone else. Witnessing an attack that happened in a movie or television show, such as a documentary, may be enough of a trigger depending on the circumstances. Children take emotional cues from their parents, so if one of your parents has a fear of animals, you may acquire it from them. Heredity also has a role to play; if you have family members with anxiety disorders, you may be genetically predisposed to develop a phobia such as agrizoophobia.
What Are the Symptoms of Agrizoophobia?Agrizoophobia is an anxiety disorder. Seeing or thinking about wild animals triggers a rush of adrenaline and a fight-or-flight response. If you have agrizoophobia, you may go out of your way to avoid coming into contact with wild animals, or even thinking about them, to avoid the feelings of anxiety you experience. Symptoms of agrizoophobia can also manifest in other ways. As part of the fight-or-flight response, you may experience flashes of hot or cold. Other possible symptoms include:
- Increased heart rate or hyperventilation
- Muscle tremors
Is Agrizoophobia Treatable?Agrizoophobia can be so debilitating that it affects your ability to function in your day-to-day life. There are treatments available that can help you de-escalate symptoms to a manageable level.
- Antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications may help to reduce the physical symptoms of the disorder.
- Exposure therapy involves exposing you to triggering stimuli in a safe setting. At first, you may be exposed to a picture of an animal you fear. As you learn to control your feelings of anxiety with the least triggering stimulus, you may be exposed to one that provokes a stronger response, such as a trip to the zoo. During the exposure, you learn to control your symptoms and remain calm using muscle relaxation methods or breathing techniques.
- Agrizoophobia is considered an irrational fear. Most of the animals that cause you anxiety cannot hurt you or can only do minor damage. Cognitive-behavioural therapy is a technique that helps you to discover the reasons behind your fears and replace them with rational thoughts.