Ecophobia – Fear of your Home

Home Sweet Home, Not for Everyone

Typically, when you think of home, you think of a safe place where you live. Unfortunately, for some people, a home is exactly the opposite of that. Rather than a place of safety and security, one’s home becomes a place of terror.

This fear of one’s home is called ecophobia.

This phobia causes unexplainable anxiousness when one thinks about going home or being at home.

It is challenging to explain why the familiar living room, bedroom, and kitchen is the last place you want to be while everyone around you finds comfort at the prospect of being at home.

Your home should be your territory, so facing the fear of your home before it consumes you is crucial. Some suffering from ecophobia, the home itself ends up being a simple place to store your personal items because you just cannot bear to be there.

The good news is that there are ways you can deal with this phobia and eventually overcome it. Educating yourself, first why you have this fear and then working through the steps to alleviate the symptoms, let’s read on.

What is Ecophobia?

Is it even possible to be afraid of a supposedly safe and nurturing environment like your home? And if so, what is the fear of home called?
This irrational fear of home or home surroundings is called ecophobia, also referred to as Oikophobia.

Fear of one’s home surroundings can cause you to refrain from going home and prefer being anywhere else than your home. This is because you may believe that being home can cause you to get hurt or that something unpleasant will happen.

You may find yourself making excuses for why you’d rather spend your time elsewhere or even start living as a nomad. You would rather not have a permanent address that ties you down to a specific home.

Ecophobia can cause you to be away from home as much as possible. This fear escalates when you are physically present inside the house and may even lead to panic or anxiety attacks.
As one can guess, this form of phobia will eventually negatively impact one’s social relationship with their family and the people they have grown up with. At some point, it might even affect one’s career.

Ecophobia Causes

Like most phobias, there is no specific cause for ecophobia. However, there are a number of factors that can trigger such a fear.
Generally, the causes for ecophobia can be classified into two: biological and environmental.

Biological Factor

Genes play a major role in determining whether a person would develop any phobias.

If anyone in your family has a history of mental illness, anxiety, or even a different type of phobia, it increases the probability of you developing ecophobia.

Typically, if this genetic proclivity has been passed on to you, any unpleasant experience or traumatic event related to your home can trigger ecophobia. This genetic tendency for developing phobias or mental disorders is called diathesis-stress relationship.

Environmental/Experiential Triggers

If one already has a genetic predisposition for developing mental health disorders, an event can trigger ecophobia.

This event can be a traumatic experience one has while growing up that has carried into adulthood. If a person is afraid of their parents or was subjected to violence and aggression when they were younger, it can create an association between one’s home and negative feelings, eventually resulting in ecophobia.

Ecophobia may also develop if one feels threatened and unsafe in their house. Again, there are many possibilities on why one may feel and think this way. It could result from a traumatic incident one has witnessed or was subjected to. A break in, a fire, a very bad relationship issue or countless other personal and traumatic events could leave scared of your own home.

Other environmental factors such as natural disasters and calamities can also instill fear in a person, like one’s house being ripped away by a tornado or being stuck inside when one’s house is on fire.

Symptoms of Ecophobia

What symptoms one may experience with ecophobia will depend on how severe the phobia is. While some may only feel a slight discomfort at the thought of being home, others have experience hyperventilation or panic attacks.

Here are the common symptoms of ecophobia.

Physical Symptoms:

● Cold sweat
● Dry mouth
● Fainting
● Increased heartbeat
● Gastrointestinal distress
● Nausea
● Numbness
● Shaking
● Shortness of breath
● Smothering sensation
● Tightness in the chest
● Tingling sensation
● Vomiting

Psychological Symptoms:

● Different levels of a panic attack
● Irrational thoughts of losing control and embarrassing yourself
● Not being able to think and speak logically
● Thoughts about being harmed and dying
● Wanting to cry helplessly or give in to the fear

How Do You Deal with Ecophobia?

Needless to say, depending on the severity of one’s ecophobia, it can eventually take a toll on one’s life and relationships.

One of the most important things to address when dealing with any phobia is to manage the anxiety and depression that may result from it. Besides, the more you try to escape your fear, the more intense it becomes. This can lead to more unhappiness and anxiety.

Like any other irrational fear, ecophobia can also be dealt with in numerous ways. There are various options available today when it comes to treating a phobia.

Ecophobia Treatment

Most people outgrow their fears. However, when it comes to phobias or irrational fears, these fears can worsen with time and become increasingly disruptive if left untreated.
If you believe you have ecophobia, you can consider the following treatment options.

Self-Help Methods

Understanding your fear is the first step toward overcoming it. It is also one of the hardest but most important steps of self-help.

You should understand, however, that this is not an overnight process. You will have to put in the effort and take the appropriate measures necessary to deal with ecophobia.

To this end, introspection can be very helpful. So, you can start with the following questions:
#1. Do I have anything to be afraid of?
#2. What’s the worst that can happen to me in the house? And how will I handle it?
#3. On a scale of 1-10, realistically, how likely is my fear/anxiety to materialize?
#4. Based on my past phobia attacks, did anything negatively happen to me?
#5. Do I want to be free of this phobia?

Keep visiting these questions and write down your answers. Remember, it is acceptable to have different answers in the beginning. But once you become more confident, your answers may evolve and you may eventually be able to transcend the fear.

Calming activities like meditation and journaling can also be incredibly helpful when dealing with anxiety.

Professional Treatment

If you believe that your ecophobia is too severe to deal with on your own, getting professional treatment from experienced psychiatrists can be a good way forward.
Typically, the professional will ask you to share your fears in-depth before they can recommend the best treatment method for you.
Some of the standard therapy treatments for phobias include neurolinguistics programming, exposure therapy, mindfulness-based stress reduction, cognitive behavior therapy, and systematic desensitization therapy.

Coping with Ecophobia
Living with a phobia like ecophobia can be one of the hardest things to do, but that should not stop you from trying to make progress.
It is vital that you try to empower yourself and get the suitable treatment necessary to be able to confidently manage your fears until you reach that point where going home becomes an exciting idea rather than causing you distress.

In Conclusion
Being able to call a place you call home and feel safe and comfortable in is very important to live a happy life. Don’t allow an irrational fear of home take this away from you.
With the right treatments and self-help methods, you can overcome this phobia and have a safe haven of your own.

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