Discussing Stomaphobia or the Fear of Mouths
Do you experience fear and anxiety when you watch big-mouthed characters on programs such as anime? Does the sight of mouths leave you sweating, trembling, or nauseous?
If so, you might have stomaphobia–or also known as merinthophobia.
Even if you have studied a list of phobias and meanings, you might not have encountered stomaphobia.
Stomaphobia is an uncommon and lesser-known phobia. However, like any other phobia, it can lead to severe distress and affect the day-to-day function of the person who has it. Though it can be limiting, you can overcome the fear.
The first step to conquering your fear is to acknowledge it. Talking to an expert or even a close family member or friend can work wonders. Self-help, counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, and medication are other options available to treat the phobia.
The fear of mouths is called stomaphobia-merinthophobia. It comes from the Greek words stoma meaning mouth and phobia meaning fear. People with stomaphobia cannot tolerate the sight of mouths, particularly large or unusual ones.
Causes of Stomaphobia
Observing someone close to you in your youth who had stomaphobia may have caused you to develop this fear as well.
Stomaphobia, like many other specific phobias, can run in families. So, if your parents or grandparents had similar phobias or mental health issues, you may have inherited the tendency from them.
Stomaphobia is a body part phobia. A person with stomaphobia will experience the same symptoms as someone suffering from an anxiety disorder.
Some of the physical and psychological symptoms associated with stomaphobia are listed below.
- shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- pain or tightness in the chest
- a sensation of butterflies in the stomach
- hot flashes or chills
- dry mouth
- a sensation of choking
- numbness or pins and needles
- feeling faint
- ringing in your ears
- tightness in the chest or chest pain
- a rise in blood pressure
- rapid heartbeat
- fear of losing control
- fear of fainting
- feelings of dread
- fear of death
- fear of harm or illness
- confusion, difficulty concentrating
- anger, irritability, mood swings
- anxiety and fear
- feeling disconnected
People with stomaphobia may not always need treatment. They can often avoid the object of fear, giving them a feeling of control over the situation. However, it may not be possible to altogether avoid the feared object. In this case, treatment is recommended.
Stomaphobia, like most phobias, is treatable. The same treatment plan that works for most phobias is applicable and effective for stomaphobia.
The treatment or combination of treatments that may work successfully for each individual varies. This depends on the severity of the symptoms and other factors.
Self-help is the first option. It allows you to work at your own pace to convince yourself that your fear is irrational and find measures to overcome it. You can write down your thoughts and triggers and focus on how to deal with the related negative behavior. You can try relaxation techniques when faced with situations that can lead to anxiety.
Talk therapy includes counseling and is a very efficient treatment for stomaphobia. This non-intrusive, laid-back therapy involves conversations with highly trained professionals.
The therapist reaches the root of the phobia and guides the patient to overcome their fear through counseling.
There are several kinds of talk therapy which all aim to:
- Help the patient recognize irrelevant and unhelpful thoughts and actions and suggest measures to overcome the same.
- Help you identify feelings that may have led you to develop the phobia and find ways not to be triggered by them.
- Help you develop rational thoughts and understanding.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
What we think and perceive has a direct and constant influence on our behavior. CBT targets your perception of your fear and helps you face the object of your fear without having it trigger an extreme response.
For example, through CBT, the person who has stomaphobia realizes that the fear and anxiety they experience are irrational and an inaccurate depiction of reality.
Generally, phobias show a good prognosis with therapy alone. There is no specific medication to treat stomaphobia.
However, in some cases, psychiatrists may prescribe medication to help relieve symptoms like anxiety and depression. They may prescribe three classes of medication:
How to Avoid Stomaphobia Altogether
Although you may not be able to get rid of the fear entirely, treatments and self-help methods can help you manage it to a large extent.
Remember that you are in control of your fear and not the other way around.
It is possible to overcome your phobia once you have replaced the irrational thought patterns with more adaptive ones. Try to confront your fears gradually, as avoiding them makes them more frightening. With time, your fear won’t have the same grasp on you as it once did.
Stomaphobia might keep you from seeing your loved ones and going about your regular activities, but overcoming it is possible. With the support of family and friends and proper treatment, you can reclaim your life.