October 12th, 2018
Do you have a fear of dogs? Is this fear irrational and severe? Does your fear of dogs interrupt your daily life and trigger symptoms like an accelerated heart rate or dizziness? Do these symptoms last 6 months or longer? Then you may have what is described as Cynophobia. Cynophobia, pronounced (sy-no-phobia), is a phobia or a fear of dogs. It is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a phobia under the “animal” specifier. Most people develop Cynophobia at a young age. This could be attributed to a traumatic experience with a dog, if a close family member has a phobia of dogs, or hearing negative things about dogs. Even if dogs aren’t present, people with Cynophobia may find that a lot of their time is spent worrying that dogs may appear or figuring out how to avoid them. Now don’t get confused, simply not liking dogs or being afraid of them is not the same as having Cynophobia. We all have fears of things for various reasons but phobias are anxiety disorders involving fear or anxiety that is excessive or out of proportion to the object or situation.
Living with Cynophobia is not easy, just as living with any other phobias, but that does not mean you have to continue living with such intense fear. It is common for those suffering from phobias to feel helpless and something they will never be able to control, especially if they have suffered from these fears for an extended period of time. Beginning by opening up to your family and friends is helpful in the treatment process. Many people feel embarrassed because of their phobia, feeling as if their fears are silly even though the fear is very real for them. For instance, instead of going to the beach with friends, they may decline because they are afraid of seeing dogs. This consequently causes people to feel isolated by both avoiding situations where they may be around dogs as well as family and friends. Being vulnerable and sharing your fears can be the first step in improving your Cynophobia. If people don't know you’re suffering how can they help you? While they may not understand your fears, the validation that your fear is real and disruptive to your life can bring you closer to them. Depending on the severity of your Cynophobia, you may need to seek treatment from a professional which may include engaging in therapy or the use of medications. On the other hand, if your Cynophobia is not as severe, engaging in various techniques to reduce or alleviate the physical and emotional symptoms, like relaxation exercises will be crucial to incorporate into your life. Receiving treatment for Cynophobia is crucial, but the upside is that it is treatable. So no matter how helpless you feel, Cynophobia is not something you have to live with forever. For more information on symptoms, diagnoses and treatment visit https://www.healthline.com/health/cynophobia#treatment.
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