Ichthyophobia is a fear of fish, and includes circumstances where a person is afraid of eating fish or seeing a dead one. In some cases, the fear is of a particular type of fish, such as in the case of the person who is deathly afraid of sharks even when presented with statistics indicating that the odds of being attacked by one are extremely low. While many people feel uncomfortable when presented with a whole fish on a plate in a restaurant and say they would not want to eat something that is “looking” at them, an individual with a true fear of fish will find that it affects his or her everyday life. At that point, professional treatment will be needed to deal with the issue.

Symptoms of Ichthyophobia

The main symptom of ichthyophobia is an irrational fear of fish. The individual affected by the phobia may know and understand that feeling uncomfortable around anything with scales and gills is not normal, but the person feels powerless to control the physical symptoms associated with their fear.

Symptoms of ichthyophobia also include:

Causes of Ichthyophobia

It’s difficult to isolate the cause of ichthyophobia. It may stem from a childhood incident involving fish or a person may develop a feeling that being around or seeing an image of a fish means that he or she is in imminent danger later on.

Treatment of Ichthyophobia

One form of therapy that can be effective in treating ichthyophobia is hypnotherapy. During the treatment sessions, the hypnotherapist helps the client to picture him or herself seeing or eating fish without having an undue level of anxiety. The hypnotherapist helps the client to picture him or herself seeing, eating or even thinking about a fish without experiencing the negative symptoms associated with the phobia.

Neuro-linguistic programming is another treatment approach that can be used to treat people who have an irrational fear of fish. Through this process, the client examines the reasons for his or her thought processes and learns how to minimize the negative thoughts about fish.

Exposure therapy is another method used to treat ichthyophobia. With this approach, the client goes through experiences where they may start by looking at an image of a fish. Over time, the client works with a therapist to be in situations where they would gradually work up to being in the same room as a fish. Depending on the specifics of the phobia, the client’s treatment may include touching or eating a fish.

Admitting that a phobia exists can be uncomfortable, but it is the first step to getting help to deal with it. Experts working in the mental health field encourage people who are experiencing negative consequences to reach out to get the help they need. Healthcare professionals help the patient to conquer the phobia and move on to lead a life that doesn’t include this type of irrational fear.

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