29th Mar 2023
Megalophobia is an irrational and excessive fear of large objects, that can occur as a result of a negative experience or due to an unknown cause. Symptoms of megalophobia include anxiety or panic attacks in the presence of large objects but can be treated by therapy and medication.
Megalophobia is an intense fear of large objects, that can cause extreme feelings of anxiety and panic attacks when anticipating or being in the presence of large objects . This can lead to the avoidance of certain situations and environments and may cause a severe decline in quality of life.
Megalophobia could develop as a fear of all large objects or of specific large objects, which may include:
Although not specifically mentioned in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5), megalophobia is considered a specific phobia, which is in part defined by an irrational and disproportionate level of fear or anxiety when faced with a certain stimulus .
Current research on megalophobia is limited, partially due to the fact that many people do not report or seek help for phobias . They may also be challenging to diagnose as symptoms of other conditions may appear similar. As such, further research is required to clarify the causes of and circumstances surrounding the development of specific phobias such as megalophobia.
Symptoms of megalophobia may vary from person to person but can include :
The exact cause of megalophobia is not known and may differ from person to person. However, there are several potential causes and risk factors that can contribute to the development of a specific phobia.
Research indicates that there is a strong heritability of specific phobias, as those with a specific phobia commonly have a relative with an anxiety disorder, phobia, or both, indicating a likelihood of a genetic predisposition .
There have been studies looking into the neurobiology of fear and specific phobias that have found a potential difference in people with and without a phobia in the activation and function of the fear response in the amygdala. Therefore, this suggests that some people could have an increased sensitivity to fear that contributes to the development of a phobia .
Phobias can develop as a response to a traumatic experience . For example, someone may develop megalophobia if they were frightened by an event involving a large object as a child, such as an elephant charging them while on safari or witnessing a lorry overturn and crush a car. The fear experienced by this occurrence may then develop into a debilitating fear of large objects.
Specific phobias are often not diagnosed, as many people do not seek help and simply avoid the stimulus that causes them fear or believe that their anxiety is caused by a different diagnosis .
However, if you think you have megalophobia, it is important to seek a diagnosis so that you can receive appropriate treatment and prevent your symptoms from becoming worse or having further impact on your life.
To diagnose megalophobia, you will be asked questions about your symptoms, relating to diagnostic criteria for a specific phobia from the DSM-5, which includes :
Many people with a specific phobia don’t seek treatment, as they may just continue to live with the phobia, avoid the triggering stimulus, or feel anxious about asking for help. However, without treatment, phobias can persist and may worsen, so it is important to seek professional advice .
Treatments for certain kinds of specific phobias have not yet been well researched, so it is not clear if each phobia requires a different type of treatment. Often, treatment for a phobia involves systematic exposure, response prevention, and desensitization, so that the fear associated with a stimulus is gradually lessened .
Although there are no approved medications for the treatment of a specific phobia, a medication may be prescribed to help manage the symptoms, including :
It is important to ensure you take your medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor, as adverse effects can occur if you take too much, skip doses, or suddenly stop your medication, and this can worsen your mental and physical health.
If you have megalophobia, you may be able to reduce the impact of your symptoms with some self-help techniques, including :
The prevalence of megalophobia is not known, due to a lack of research and reporting of the condition. Although, research indicates that between 1-10% of the population experiences a specific phobia, with females being several times more likely to have a specific phobia than males .
Untreated, specific phobias may continue and potentially worsen, which could have an ongoing negative impact on your quality of life and result in poor mental wellbeing. However, with appropriate treatment, the symptoms of megalophobia can be effectively managed to improve quality of life and functioning .