Ornithophobia is a fear of birds. A person who has this condition understands that his or her anxiety about encountering birds or being attacked by them is not based in anything rational. Images from books or movies such as the Alfred Hitchcock classic, “The Birds,” can trigger this type of phobia. The individual’s everyday life is affected by his or her anxiety about feathered creatures.

Symptoms of Ornithophobia

Being around birds or seeing images of them can trigger symptoms in a person with ornithophobia. The severity of the symptoms varies, depending on the individual, and may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Shaking
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Terror

Treatment of Ornithophobia

Since ornithophobia can produce a number of physical symptoms in people living with this condition, medication may be prescribed to bring them under control at the beginning of the treatment process. Once the physical symptoms connected to the phobia have been addressed, the work of changing the individual’s thought patterns can start.

Relaxation techniques can be used to treat ornithophobia. This is a drug-free way to deal with anxiety. The client is taught to recognize the start of anxiety symptoms when triggered by being around birds or seeing images featuring them. Techniques like slow, deep breathing work to stop the anxiety from spinning out of control.

Visualization can also work to treat phobias like ornithophobia. The affected person learns to deal with situations that trigger the anxiety by picturing a place where they feel safe and free from any perceived harm.

One approach to treating ornithophobia is cognitive-behavior therapy. This method consists of a series of sessions with a therapist over a limited time. The average number of sessions that a client attends is 16 with this treatment approach. The client is taught how replace his or her negative and fearful thoughts about birds with more positive ones. Once the individual’s thoughts change, his or her reactions to birds change for the better as well.

Exposure therapy is used to gradually desensitize the client to birds. This treatment method involves the client overcoming his or her fear by being exposed to the thing that he or she is afraid of. The person may start by looking at images or videos of birds. The next step may be to be in the same room as a bird that is in a cage or enclosure. Finally, the client may touch a tame bird or have one sit on his or her finger or shoulder. The therapist is present during the sessions and helps the client to evaluate his or her level of anxiety at each step in the process.

Once a person has made the decision to seek treatment for ornithophobia, he or she needs to seek help from a trained therapist. Working with an individual who understand how to treat ornithophobia will make the process run more smoothly and help the client move forward to being able to live without fear of birds affecting his or her daily life.

View Resources

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists Online – Definition of Cognitive-Behavior Therapy

WrongDiagnosis.com – Symptoms and treatment for ornithophobia

Medterms.com – Definition of ornithophobia

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