Is an Extreme Fear of Snakes a Real Disorder?
The short answer is an emphatic "yes!" The extreme fear of snakes, clinically known as ophidiophobia, is an incredibly rare anxiety disorder that affects only 2-to-3% of Americans.
According to A-Z Animals, people diagnosed with the condition aren't simply bothered by snakes. They're legitimately terrified of them. In fact, their constant, overwhelming fear has the power to frequently disrupt and diminish the quality of their lives.
People who reach the diagnostic criteria for snake phobia aren’t merely afraid of these animals. [...] Having such a phobia affects a person’s life in numerous ways. One study even showed that people with this fear are always on the lookout for snakes and are likely to check the grass before even sitting down at a picnic. -Emmanuel Kingsley, A-Z Animals
Common Symptoms of Ophidiophobia
- Dizziness & disorientation
- Intense feelings of despair
- Nausea, trembling & shakiness
- Rapid breathing & heart rate
- Difficulty breathing
- Overwhelming urges to run & hide
Is It Possible to Overcome an Extreme Fear of Snakes?
On this one, the short answer is a conservative "yes." Experts at the Cleveland Clinic site exposure therapy as the ideal method for helping people confront their deep-rooted fear of snakes. Over time and in a controlled environment, exposure therapy desensitizes people to the threat of the slithering reptiles.
Initial treatment starts small. Long before a patient is ready to confront an actual snake, therapists will present them with pictures of cartoon snakes, followed by photos of real snakes, and so on and so forth.
What About the Rest of Us?
There's a good chance you're among the 97-to-98% of people who are simply bothered by or wigged-out by snakes. Where receiving clinical exposure therapy is unnecessary, educating yourself on snakes is a great first step to overcoming a general fear of them. The gallery below is a perfect opportunity for you to start small by distinguishing between Idaho's nonvenomous and venomous snakes!