The extreme fear of insects is called entomophobia and is one of the most common forms of phobia. It causes panic and acute anxiety in its victims, but there are effective ways to get rid of it, such as virtual reality, medication, etc. Psychologists offer virtual reality therapy to help clients overcome this fear by engaging in risky situations in a safe, virtual setting. These specialists use control parameters to adjust the computer-generated environment. The complex virtual environments involve replicating aspects of the real world through 360-degree views, 3D graphics and sound.
Children and adults can develop entomophobia, especially when they have had hostile experiences with a particular insect. With approximately 6% of the population suffering from entomophobia, C2care provides its clients with psychological and medical treatment for various fears, eating disorders, addiction-related stress, and implements virtual reality exposure therapy into their program. Keep reading to understand how virtual reality can help eradicate the fear of bugs.
What leads to entomophobia?
According to experts, there is no exact cause for entomophobia and other phobias. C2care suggests that temperaments such as being more sensitive or negative can cause a phobia. Other causes of entomophobia include.
- A depressing experience – negative or traumatic experiences can reinforce specific phobias, such as being stung by a bee at an early age. Depressed people have less interest in life, resulting in low self-esteem and feelings of unworthiness. Depressive feelings and insecurity lead to fear of insects.
- Your family – children can develop entomophobia from their siblings or parents. For example, you may develop a fear of insects when your mother screams at spiders and bugs.
- Genetic research shows the correlation between genes and phobias.
- Brain injuries – Brain injuries, including concussions, can cause anxiety disorders and increase fear conditioning, predisposing your brain to fear due to the stressful consequences of the injury.
- Fear of contamination – the main cause of entomophobia is the fear of contamination by insects, as most insects such as cockroaches and flies carry infections. The disgusting appearance of some insects also creates anxiety.
- Fear of insect bites and infestation: some individuals fear being bitten by insects and contracting disease as a result. Allergic reactions to insects, such as fire ant and wasp stings, can fuel entomophobia. Other people also fear an insect infestation in their body.
The thought of being around insects can cause undesirable physical and mental symptoms, such as sudden feelings of intense anxiety/fear when thinking about or seeing an insect, tightness in the chest, sweating, dry mouth, tremors, panic attacks and nausea.
How to Treat Fear of Insects
Entomophobia can be treated with virtual rehabilitation and exposure therapy.
VR technology is essential during exposure therapy (a treatment option where patients are gradually introduced to traumatic stimuli). In the virtual setting, a patient safely interacts with representations of entomophobia such as spiders, wasps and bees.
In 2011, three researchers from the University of York proposed the use of the VRET (virtual reality exhibition therapy) for the treatment of phobias. C2care uses these tools to produce scary bugs in the virtual environment, so patients may not need a therapist.
Our virtual rehabilitation trains therapeutic patients based on conventional therapy and virtual reality simulation activities. It is entertaining and motivates patients to overcome their fears. It also uses objective outcome measures of therapy effectiveness (range of motion, play scores, limb speed, etc.). This information is stored transparently by the computers running the VR software and is available online.
Thus, VR therapy can be conducted in the comfort of the patient’s home and monitored remotely. Keep in mind that virtual rehabilitation is more expensive than equipment and medication and makes the client more active with desensitization.
At C2care, we set unique goals for each treatment in order to promote progress. Over the course of approximately eight rounds of sessions, we focus on the following :
- Psychoeducation – this involves identifying the root cause of the fear and the symptoms and signs associated with it. We also introduce VR at this stage and answer questions about the process.
- Relaxation – in this stage, we explore types of breathing to help patients cope with moments of fear, anxiety and stress. We begin by orienting the patient with a neutral VR setting for a smoother transition into the advanced virtual.
- Virtual exposure and relaxation: the patient is exposed to various insect scenarios. The triggers are unique to each session, but the breathing methods are similar.
- Relapse Prevention: Our mental health experts are in contact with patients to analyze therapy sessions and plan exercises for future bug exposure. We equip the patient with separate tools and software to prevent impending relapse.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
This treatment option involves imagining various insects in your thoughts and determining how they affect you. It focuses on changing your reactions and thinking about the phobia by identifying and reducing the triggers.
We merge this therapy with virtual reality to help patients control their thoughts until they are no longer sensitive to the fear of insects.
CBT has also demonstrated impeccable excellence in the treatment of a range of specific fears, thanks to its large number of successful treatments and its long-term effects. Some of the best therapies for treating entomophobia include personalized CBT using virtual reality exposure in VIVO
Psychotherapy is one of the most effective ways to overcome entomophobia. Our mental health specialists may recommend certain medications to minimize the symptoms of entomophobia. Prescribed medications may include :
- Beta-blockers – these drugs block the effects of adrenaline, such as high blood pressure, heart rate and palpitations.
- Antidepressants – reduce the fear of anxiety associated with insects.
- Anti-anxiety medications – these are recommended for short-term use and reduce anxiety.
Note that beta-blockers, antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications are not FDA approved for phobias.
What are the advantages of VR over in vivo exposure (IVE)) ?
VR exposure therapy can be performed from anywhere in the world using appropriate tools, whereas in vivo exposure can be problematic when transportation is unreliable. People with mobility issues, such as obesity and paralysis, can effectively use VR because it poses fewer ethical issues than IVE.
VR also motivates patients with in-game rewards, high scores and leaderboards. Based on high scores and game data, our therapists can assess progress and grade patient performance for better inspiration.
What is the difference between Ekblom syndrome and entomophobia?
The fear of insects crawling on your skin is called Ekblom syndrome. It causes the patient to believe that the skin is infested with insects and may result in self-mutilation to eliminate the infestation.
Instead, entomophobia is simply the fear of insects.
Through gradual and regular exposure to insects, patients can eradicate this phobia.
Do you treat people with entomophobia or other specific phobias? Don’t forget to check out our virtual reality therapy services. At C2care, we provide virtual reality equipment and environments for a multitude of mental health issues. For entomophobia, some of our virtual reality remedies include virtual ant hills or spiders approaching the patient’s home, virtual representation of insects in your home and much more. It contains eight exposure sessions that last about half an hour. Our TERV therapy can be used on children over the age of 4, adolescents, adults and the elderly. The implementation of VR therapy techniques offers a remedy that you and your patients are looking for.
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