Should I seek counseling for my fear of holes (Trypophobia)?

A phobia is a reaction or excessive fear of an object or situation. While phobias can be classified as “irrational”, they can trigger severe discomfort, nausea, and panic attacks in some individuals. You may be familiar with and even know people who have a “common” phobia: a fear of flying, heights, spiders, or thunder and lightning.

If you or a friend experience that kind of deep-rooted fear and anxiety over holes; perticularly patterns or clusters of holes, you may be a part of a small percentage of individuals with trypophobia.

What is Trypophobia?

Trypophobia is the fear of holes or clusters of holes. For example, things like honeycombs, strawberry surfaces, hives, or a cluster of eyes can make a person extremely uncomfortable, queasy, afraid, or even anxious enough to have a panic attack.

While trypophobia isn’t considered a mental illness, there have been studies that suggest it can lead to major depressive disorder and general anxiety disorder. Without properly acknowledging the fear or seeking treatment, you could potentially increase your risk of stress and anxiety. Instead, even if this isn’t a problem that occurs often, it’s important to talk with someone about managing your phobias and anxieties to better control your response.

Working through your fear of holes with a Counselor

With the help of mental health professionals through online resources like BetterHelp, you can discuss your fears and stressors in order to find solutions. These solutions may come in the form of exposure therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), or just working through possible underlying traumas that have contributed to the phobia. With the advancements in technology, availability, and affordability of mental health care, you can connect with a therapist that makes you feel safe and comfortable to open up about these difficulties.

It’s important to note that you don’t necessarily need to seek the help of a counselor because there’s something “wrong” with you. Rather, much like you would consult a doctor because of persistent side pain, it’s to find ways to cope with these situations in order to function. Phobias of every type affect millions of people daily – you’re not alone and you’re doing what’s best for your mental health by seeking the advice of a professional.

Steps to Work Through A Triggering Event

As with many phobias, there are varying levels of trypophobia for people. While it’s not currently recognized as a mental disorder, there are people who report feeling fear, panic, and extreme discomfort because of their phobia. If you find yourself in a triggering situation that can induce a panic attack, there are steps you can take to reduce the increasing sense of dread.

Breathing Exercises: There are several types of breathing exercises you can do to reduce anxiety and decrease an oncoming panic attack. Focus on keeping your breath steady, slowly breathing in through your stomach instead of into your chest and shoulders. Count to five on the inhale, hold your breath for three seconds, and release for five seconds. After a pause, continue to bring your heart rate to a normal speed and get your blood moving through your body.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation: For some people, physical grounding helps reduce the onset of a panic attack by focusing their minds on a separate task. Start by pressing your fingertips into your thumbs. Then, clench your fists for a few seconds and then stretch your fingers out. Combining this with breathing exercises can help bring your focus back to the present and regulate your heart rate.

Reach Out to Your Support System: Talking with close family members and friends can help you not only come to terms with your fear but also feel welcome to reach out for help. Explain your discomfort and anxiety, the symptoms you experience, and how you’re currently treating them. With a strong support system, including your mental health professional, you can work through solutions and treatment possibilities in order to reduce the effects and possibly confront underlying conditions of your phobias.