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    Molluscophobia – Fear of Slugs and Snails


    Fear of Slugs and Snails: A Phobia or Disgust?

    Do you avoid going to gardens or wetlands during the rainy season? Have you still not watched the animated movie Epic, because it has talking slugs?

    Do you get chills at the sight of a slug or snail? Do you stay away from gardens or moist places that may have slugs or snails?

    If you answered yes to the above questions, you might have molluscophobia, the phobia of snails and slugs.

    Seeing your family and friends unaffected by these slimy creatures probably leaves you feeling silly. This might make it difficult for you to express yourself and tell others about your phobia.

    However, there are many different kinds of phobias, and you never know what someone may be going through.

    Also, there is hope. Expressing yourself and seeking treatment can go a long way toward coping with your anxiety. Additionally, you can reach out for professional help and learn to live a phobia-free life.

    To learn more about molluscophobia, read on.

     

    What Is Molluscophobia?

    Molluscophobia is the fear of gastropods, that is, snails and slugs. Gastropod fear causes a person to fear slugs and snails.

    Both mollusks are harmless. However, one suffering from the phobia is repulsed at the sight of these creatures and avoids them at all costs.

    The fear is most likely because of the gooey and slimy mollusk bodies, which have an unpleasant and wet feel. The creatures leave a line of slime in their path and lack visible facial features.

    Moreover, they are unpredictable—at least to those who fear them. A slug or snail may quickly change paths, making them seem to advance toward the phobic.

    Those suffering from fear of snails or slugs may wish to wipe them off the face of the earth, or at least from their garden. But that’s not a good idea. Slugs and snails are an important part of the food web and are critical for the ecosystem.

    This slug and snail terror may limit a person to the four walls of their home, especially during the rainy season. One may also avoid venturing into wetlands or forest areas for hiking and camping in fear of encountering mollusks.

    Causes of Molluscophobia

    What do you think causes snail or slug phobia? Most psychologists believe that phobias mostly stem from experience, but environmental and genetic factors also play a role.

    So, the most probable reason why you might be suffering from a phobia of gastropods is because of a bad encounter you had in early life. It may be that you don’t remember the incident, because you were too young. But your brain still remembers the reaction and reproduces it each time you encounter the object of your fear, in this case, snails and slugs.

    Also, if you live with a mentally ill person or in a stressful environment, you have a higher risk of developing mental issues such as anxiety or phobia.

    The behavior can also be learned. Suppose you went to school with a friend who was terrified of snails and slugs. Their vivid description of what they feel about the disgust or terror may make you imagine the same things. As a result, your thought process becomes similar to that of a person suffering from the phobia, and you begin to fear the same.

    Another important factor is genetic predisposition. Someone with a familial history of mental issues carries in their genes the possibility of a mental illness. Some are fragile to external factors, and certain triggers may lead to the onset of a phobia.

     

    Symptoms of Molluscophobia

    Symptoms of molluscophobia are similar to those of other specific phobias. Depending on the severity of the phobia, one may experience a few or more of the following symptoms:

    Physical Symptoms

    • Trembling
    • Sweating
    • Increased heartrate
    • Hot and cold flashes
    • Headache
    • Dizziness
    • Fainting
    • Increase in blood pressure

    Mental/Emotional Symptoms

    • The feeling of something crawling on your body
    • Anxiety
    • Panic attack
    • Feeling of dread
    • Paranoia about acquiring a disease
    • Irritability

     

    Treatment of Molluscophobia

    Treatment of molluscophobia involves helping the individual cope with their anxiety and symptoms. After treatment, there is no guarantee the fear of snails and slugs will end, but it is likely the extreme fear reaction will be reduced.

    Some of the best treatment options for fear of snails and slugs are:

    Self-Help

    The first approach to dealing with phobias is often self-help. Through self-help, you can become aware of your triggers and reactions and come to understand that the phobia is irrational.

    Self-help means actively working on your anxiety and finding ways to cope with it. It includes trying mindfulness strategies and physical activities such as:

    • Yoga
    • Meditation
    • Exercises
    • Keeping a journal

    You can also try relaxation techniques during an anxiety or panic attack.

    • Deep breathing
    • Counting numbers (forward or backward)
    • Progressive muscle relaxation

    Try to rationalize your thoughts and focus on the positive. Begin openly talking about your fears without the worry of being laughed at or ridiculed.

    Exposure therapy is generally provided by a mental health professional, but it can also be done as a self-help technique. This therapy involves gradually exposing yourself to the subject of your fear until you no longer exhibit fear symptoms.

    You can start with photos. Look at one photo for about 5 seconds on the first day, 10 seconds on the next, and so on. When you are completely immune to a photo, you can use other photos and adjust the exposure time likewise.

    As a next step, you can try to expose yourself to a real life slug or snail. Initially, keep the exposure short, like 5 seconds, and then gradually increase the timing. Stop the exercise if you feel too uncomfortable.

    Professional Help

    A professional will be able to correctly diagnose you and propose the best course of treatment. You can openly talk with them about your fears without worry of being ridiculed.

    Based on your diagnosis and the progression of your fear, your mental health professional may suggest therapy. The most common types of therapies for phobias are exposure therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). However, if the patient is slow to respond to these therapies and is experiencing repeated panic attacks, antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications may be prescribed.

    The goal of medication is to reduce anxiety symptoms. It is not a cure. Additionally, such medications can be addictive, and their use will be discontinued as soon as possible.

     

    Coping with Molluscophobia

    Molluscophobia can limit your lifestyle, and if you’re a person who loves the outdoors, you’ll receive the hardest hit.

    However, it doesn’t have to be that way. You can talk to your family and friends about your fears. You can also seek help from professionals and learn to live a healthy and phobia-free life.

     

    Conclusion

    Molluscophobia can affect your quality of life. It can limit you both personally and professionally.

    Additionally, having any type of phobia can lead to other mental health issues, such as depression. For these reasons, molluscophobia should be dealt with as soon as possible.

    Try self-help techniques or reach out to a professional to help you overcome your phobia. It’s possible to return to a normal life with the right methods.

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