Fear Of Bees (apiphobia): Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Bee stings can be painful and unpleasant, and no one likes getting one.. However, some people develop an irrational fear of these insects, which causes tremendous discomfort and anxiety in their presence.

The simple sound of a buzzing sound can cause a state of panic and fear so intense that the person wants to leave the place immediately as a result of irrational thoughts. This extreme and unreal fear is known as apiphobia, and in this article we will delve into its symptoms, causes and consequences.

What is apiphobia

The word apiphobia comes from Latin, since “apis” means bees; and from the Greek, “phobos” translates as fear. This phobia is also known as melisophobia, since bee in Greek is “melissa”.

Apiphobia is a phobic disorder and, therefore, an anxiety disorder. Its main symptom is extreme fear, discomfort and anxiety, which cause the person to try to avoid bees at all costs. This phobia is usually related to the fear of other flying insects such as wasps or hornets.

Many people have been bitten by these insects or have family or friends who have suffered bites on their own flesh. But the bite of these insects, which can be painful, does not pose a health risk, unless the person who suffers the bite is allergic or receives multiple simultaneous bites.

Apiphobia does not necessarily pose a serious problem for the person, especially in those cases in which there is hardly any contact with bees or wasps. However, Yes, it is necessary to go to a specialist in cases in which these symptoms persist and affect the subject’s life.. For example, it can be a serious problem for those who live near a forest or their neighbor owns a bee hive. In such circumstances, your apiphobia needs treatment.

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Like the rest of phobias, this condition is usually directly associated with a previous incident with bees. In other words, to a traumatic event. The most frequent cause is being stung by bees, which can cause the learning of irrational fear through classical conditioning, a type of associative learning that we explain in our article: “Classical conditioning and its most important experiments”

This phobia usually develops in childhood, although it can also occur at any age.

Now, there are other possible causes that have nothing to do with being stung by a bee or wasp.. For example, when someone around us has been stung. When this happens, apiphobia can be acquired through vicarious conditioning. Furthermore, since we are little, we are taught to be afraid and stay away from bees. This extreme behavior can lead some people to develop irrational beliefs about these insects. Television and movies also influence the development of these beliefs.

Some experts also claim that we are biologically predisposed to suffer from phobias, since this emotion has helped the human species survive for centuries. This has caused phobias to not respond to logical arguments, but rather to be primitive and non-cognitive associations.

Symptoms and signs

The symptoms are common in different types of phobia, what varies is the stimulus that causes it. These symptoms can be cognitive, behavioral and physical. They stand out among them:

Treatment and therapy

Psychological therapy has been shown to work especially well in treating phobias in many studies. Specifically, cognitive behavioral therapy, which aims to modify those thoughts or behaviors that cause discomfort to the patient.

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Most of the time, fear of bees is related to irrational beliefs, so trying to replace this negative image of bees can help. However, Relaxation and exposure techniques are the treatment par excellence in the case of phobias.

Exposure therapy is characterized by frequent sessions in which the person faces the feared stimulus progressively. Likewise, psychologists also teach different forms of relaxation such as exercises to release muscle tension, mental visualizations and breathing control. The psychologist can also teach the patient relaxation techniques so that they can be used simultaneously during the exposure. This is what is known as a systematic desensitization technique.

In severe cases of anxiety, anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants can be used to control a person’s feelings of fear. However, they should never be administered without medical supervision and without being part of a treatment that includes psychotherapy.

Other therapeutic methods such as Mindfulness and acceptance and commitment therapy have been shown to be effective in treating phobias.

New technologies applied to the treatment of phobias

New technologies have allowed patients to be exposed to the phobic stimulus without it being present. This is possible thanks to virtual reality and augmented reality. Studies show that these types of techniques are very effective. Nowadays, mobile applications have even been developed to treat phobias.