Unravelling Atephobia – Fear of Ruins
Do you feel the walls closing in on you every time you see an old, abandoned building—even on a television screen?
Are you terrified at the sight of a demolished, destructed building or slum? Do you fight the urge to put the pedal to the metal as you drive by? If your answer to these questions is yes, you may have atephobia or the excessive fear of ruins.
It may be very difficult to explain the terror you feel when you see ruins. And you certainly would not expect anyone else to understand the intensity of your fear. Some may suggest you simply avoid these areas or images. And you do try. But in some situations you cannot or may not be able to avoid the site of ruins.
But don’t lose hope. Though there isn’t any particular cure for phobias, there are various treatment methods you can try to help you manage them.
The first step towards handling this fear is to understand why you have it in the first place.
Understanding Atephobia and Its Causes
Atephobia is the fear of ruins or physical destruction of buildings or places. The term ‘atephobia’ comes from ate, meaning destroyed or ruins, and phobia, meaning fear. Atephobia is not restricted to only older buildings. It can also refer to new ones that have faced destruction, such as in the case with bombings or structural collapse.
Atephobia may be considered an exaggerated or irrational fear. People having this phobia often know about it but have trouble accepting it. Disliking a damaged structure is very different from having a phobia of it. If just the thought or sight of ruins somehow manages to evoke a feeling of dread which you can’t seem to shake, then it is termed a phobia.
A key factor in the development of atephobia is the environment. People who have experienced a traumatic event in the past related to ruins can be the cause for atephobia. However, there are times when genetics also play a role in the development of fear.
Symptoms of Atephobia
The symptoms include behavioral changes and fear of panic attacks. If a person struggling with atephobia happens to see any ruins, they can experience feelings of panic. They may also start distancing themselves from anything that even remotely resembles or reminds them of ruins. For example, movies that have scenes involving ruins.
Seeing a place that is in ruins may trigger a past traumatic experience for someone with atephobia. This could cause a rapid rise in heart rate.
Those with atephobia may also suffer from shortness of breath or breathlessness when the phobia is triggered. You may find it hard to breathe when you are greeted with the sight or even the thought of ruins.
Self-help – What Can You Do to Help Yourself?
Try writing down your thoughts and understand the patterns in which your fears are triggered and when. Replace negative thoughts with positive statements and reinforcement.
Deep breathing, controlled breathing, meditation, or even counting numbers in your head when faced with your fear can go a long way in relaxing and overcoming it.
Alternatively, try exposing yourself to the thing you fear. Start small by watching movies that have scenes with ruins in them and keep reassuring yourself that you’re okay. Eventually, your fears will start diminishing, and you’ll be able to drive past abandoned ruins without having to detour around them.
Professional Help for the Fear of Ruins
Like all phobias, the fear of ruins is irrational. However, if the fear is affecting you to a level where it prohibits you from leading a normal life, maybe it is time to consider seeking professional help. While there isn’t any one treatment for atephobia, there are many different treatment methods you can try to help you manage the fear.
For the treatment of any phobia, you should first be aware of your condition. There are chances that people with atephobia don’t recognize it as an illness, or they know it’s there but have trouble accepting it. Consider reaching out to a therapist to help. For something like atephobia, long-term treatment is needed. In such cases, psychotherapy is perfect.
Relaxation exercises like the Jacobson progressive muscle relaxation technique can go a long way. It can make the symptoms of fear, uneasiness, hyperventilation, and fatigue vanish in a matter of seconds.
Another technique of treatment you can use is mindfulness. Mindfulness is a technique via which you can have absolute control over the present, which will make it easier to let go of the past. It makes you realize a sense of reality, and feelings of gratitude start to emerge.
Medication can be helpful on severe symptoms of phobia, but do nothing to treat the phobia itself. Avoid self-medicating, no matter how much you feel like it helps. It can be harmful to you.
Learning to Cope with Atephobia
All of the treatment methods mentioned above cannot guarantee that your phobia will disappear completely. However, treatment will help you work on your anxiety, and you will have better control over managing your fears.
You can find ways to lessen your anxiety and, in turn, your fears by dealing with it either by yourself or with the help of a professional. You can also focus on positive thoughts to help you cope with the fear of ruins whenever it is triggered.
Reducing a fear from something that overpowers your life to something that is only a minor discomfort is half the battle won.
Learning how to cope with atephobia can go a long way in leading a normal life. You can now watch any movie you want without having to be afraid. You could even drive past ruins without having to take a detour. Just apply your learned relaxation techniques, take a deep breath, and drive right on past those ruins like they aren’t even there.
All of this is so much easier said than done, we know. Conquering fears is never easy, but if you can muster up the courage to take the first step, you can change your life for the better!
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