People with aichmophobia have an intense and unreasonable fear of sharp objects such as scissors, knives, needles and pencils. Like other specific phobias, aichmophobia is highly treatable with a psychological therapy called exposure therapy.
Aichmophobia is an intense fear of sharp objects. It's a type of anxiety disorder. A person with aichmophobia experiences intense fear and anxiety when they are around sharp objects like scissors, knives, needles and pencils. They often avoid situations or places where sharp objects are involved.
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Aichmophobia is the fear of sharp objects in general. Sharp objects can include things like knives, scissors, needles, sharp corners and pins. Trypanophobia is the fear of injections or needles specifically, especially in a medical setting.
Like other phobias, aichmophobia can affect anyone at any age. Specific phobias, like aichmophobia, are more likely to arise in adolescents and young adults, and females are more likely to develop them than males.
Researchers don’t know the exact number of aichmophobia cases, but specific phobias, in general, are a common mental health condition. Approximately 7% to 10% of the population has a specific phobia.
Healthcare professionals aren’t sure of the exact cause of aichmophobia. They believe that experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event in which a sharp object was involved, such as an accident, may contribute to a person developing aichmophobia. It may also be a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
People with phobias often go to extreme lengths to avoid situations that involve what they are afraid of. If a person with aichmophobia is not able to avoid sharp objects and is exposed to or is near sharp objects, they may experience the following symptoms:
Aichmophobia is diagnosed through a thorough series of questions about the person’s history, experiences and symptoms. Usually, to receive a diagnosis of aichmophobia, you must have symptoms like persistent fear and anxiety of sharp objects for at least six months.
Your healthcare provider will likely use the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a publication by the American Psychiatric Association, to diagnose aichmophobia. Your healthcare provider will also rule out any other physical or mental health conditions that could cause your symptoms.
In general, phobias have at least four criteria for diagnosis, including:
Aichmophobia can usually be treated with psychological treatment (psychotherapy) such as exposure therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy. In some cases, the individual might need medications that temporarily relieve symptoms of fear and anxiety to cope with fear while they are participating in therapy.
Exposure therapy: Exposure therapy is a common form of psychological treatment used to treat specific phobias. People with phobias usually avoid situations that involve the thing they are afraid of. Because of this, they're not able to learn that they can manage their fear when presented with their specific phobia or that their feared outcomes often do not happen. Therapists or psychologists use exposure therapy for people who have a phobia to slowly encourage them to enter situations that cause them anxiety and to try to stay in that situation so that they can learn to cope.
If you have aichmophobia and participate in exposure therapy, your therapist or psychologist may begin with talking about and showing you pictures of sharp objects. They may then gradually move on to having you be in a room with sharp objects. Next, they may have you hold a sharp object and then use a sharp object. The process of exposure therapy is slow and gradual. Your therapist or psychologist will tailor the pace of the therapy to your needs.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT is a form of psychological treatment. Through talking and asking questions, your therapist or psychologist helps you gain a different perspective. As a result, you learn to respond better to and cope with the stress and anxiety you feel when you are exposed to things that cause you fear.
Although it's not common, in some cases, people with aichmophobia might take medications to temporarily help them relieve symptoms of fear and anxiety when they are going through psychological therapy to treat their aichmophobia. Medications sometimes used to help treat aichmophobia include:
There is currently no cure for aichmophobia, but exposure therapy, a form of psychological therapy, is successful in treating it. Exposure therapy is considered the first-line treatment for specific phobias in general.
Healthcare professionals are still trying to figure out the exact cause of aichmophobia. So far, they’ve found that the risk factors for developing aichmophobia can include:
Only about 10% to 25% of people who have a specific phobia seek treatment for their condition because many can avoid the object or situation that they fear. If you have aichmophobia, avoiding situations that involve sharp objects can prevent you from enjoying certain aspects of life like cooking and certain hobbies and can lower your overall quality of life. This is why it’s important to seek treatment.
Research has shown that exposure therapy is successful in treating aichmophobia and other specific phobias. People who have a specific phobia, like aichmophobia, and don’t seek treatment are two times more likely to develop an anxiety disorder and depression.
It can be uncomfortable, but it is important to talk to your healthcare provider if you are experiencing the signs and symptoms of aichmophobia. Therapy can help you overcome your aichmophobia.
If you have already been diagnosed with aichmophobia, there are some things you can do to manage your symptoms and feel well, including:
Talking about your mental health can be uncomfortable and scary. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, so it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider about your symptoms. The following questions may be helpful to ask your healthcare provider if you have aichmophobia:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
If you have aichmophobia, know that you are not alone. Many people all over the world have a phobia. Although it can be difficult and scary, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider and seek treatment for your phobia. Aichmophobia can make you uncomfortable around everyday objects like scissors and kitchen knives that you might commonly find in work, home and school environments. It could also prevent you from getting important medical care like getting shots, critical treatments and necessary blood draws. Everyone deserves to have a high quality of life. The sooner you seek help, the sooner you will feel better.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/24/2021.
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