Trypophobia is a psychological disorder characterized by an irrational fear of images or objects with holes or irregular patterns, such as honeycombs, holes on the skin, wood, plants, or sponges.
People who suffer from this fear feel terrible when confronted with these patterns and may experience symptoms like itchiness, shivers, tingling, and repulsion. In more serious cases, trypophobia can lead to vomiting, increased heart rate, and even panic attacks.
Treatment can include gradual exposure therapy, anxiety medication, antidepressants, or psychotherapy.
People with trypophobia may present with the following symptoms when exposed to patterns such as lotus seeds, honeycombs, bubbles, strawberries, or crustaceans:
- Increased heart rate;
- Itchiness and tingling.
In more serious cases, the person may also have panic attacks due to an extreme level of anxiety.
What causes it
Generally, people who suffer with trypophobia cannot consciously distinguish safe situations from dangerous one. The uncontrollable reactions they experience are often an unconscious reflex.
According to research, people with trypophobia unconsciously associate holes or objects that have irregular patterns with dangerous situations. Objects that most commonly trigger symptoms are those found in nature. This happens due to the similarity of the holes with the skin of venomous animals, such as snakes or with maggots that can cause skin diseases.
There are various treatment approaches for managing this type of psychological problem. Exposure therapy seems to be the most effective form of treatment. This type of therapy helps the patient to control the fear, and changing their response with regard to the object that causes it. However, it must be done very carefully in order not to cause trauma.
This therapy should be done with the help of a psychologist through gradual exposure to the stimulus that causes the phobia. The therapist uses relaxation techniques through dialogue, so the person confronts the fear until the discomfort reduces.
This therapy can be combined with other techniques that help to reduce anxiety and treat the fear:
- Medication to help reduce anxiety and panic attacks, such as beta-blockers and sedatives;
- Relaxation techniques like yoga;
- Physical exercise to reduce anxiety.
Trypophobia is still not recognized in the Diagnosis and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) or the American Psychiatric Association, but some studies prove the phobia exists and causes symptoms that can negatively impact people's lives.