People with megalophobia have an intense fear of large objects such as skyscrapers, airplanes and big statues. Like other specific phobias, megalophobia is highly treatable with a psychological therapy called exposure therapy.
Megalophobia is a type of anxiety disorder in which a person experiences intense fear of large objects. A person with megalophobia experiences intense fear and anxiety when they think of or are around large objects such as large buildings, statues, animals and vehicles. They often avoid situations or places that have large objects.
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The following objects can trigger people with megalophobia to experience intense fear and anxiety:
Since there are many kinds of phobias, they can be a little challenging to diagnose. People who have megalophobia generally fear more than one kind of large object. There are other phobias that are characterized by a fear of something that happens to be large, but its size isn’t the main aspect of the fear. As an example, if you have an intense fear of the ocean (which is a large “object”) specifically, you may have thalassophobia, the fear of the ocean, and not megalophobia. If you’re experiencing intense fear, it’s important to see your healthcare provider so you can get a proper diagnosis and treatment.
Like other phobias, megalophobia can affect anyone at any age. Specific phobias, like megalophobia, are more likely to develop in children and become apparent in adolescents and young adults. Females are more likely to develop specific phobias.
Researchers don’t yet know the exact number of people who have megalophobia, which is likely because many people with specific phobias like megalophobia don’t seek treatment for their phobia. Specific phobias, in general, are a common mental health condition. Approximately 7 to 10% of the population has a phobia.
People with phobias often go to extreme lengths to avoid situations that involve what they are afraid of. If a person with megalophobia isn’t able to avoid large objects and is near large objects, they may experience the following symptoms:
Researchers aren’t sure what exactly causes megalophobia. They believe that having a negative or traumatic experience that involved a large object may contribute to a person developing megalophobia.
Megalophobia is diagnosed through a thorough series of questions about the person’s history, experiences and symptoms. Usually, you have to have had experienced persistent fear and anxiety of large objects for at least six months in order to be diagnosed with megalophobia.
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 megalophobia. Your provider will also rule out any other physical or mental health conditions that could be causing your symptoms.
In general, phobias have at least four criteria for diagnosis, including:
There’s no definitive test to diagnose megalophobia. Instead, your healthcare provider will ask you questions about your history, symptoms and experiences related to your fear of large objects to assess whether or not you have megalophobia.
Megalophobia can usually be treated with psychological treatment (psychotherapy) such as exposure therapy and/or cognitive behavioral therapy. It’s not very common, but sometimes people need medications that temporarily relieve symptoms of fear and anxiety in order to cope with fear while they are participating in 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 aren’t 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 and 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 megalophobia and participate in exposure therapy, your therapist or psychologist may begin with talking about large objects. They may then gradually move on to showing you pictures of large objects. Next, they may have you look at and be near a large object in person. 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.
Medications aren’t usually used to treat specific phobias like megalophobia. But in some cases, people with megalophobia might take medications to temporarily help them relieve symptoms of fear and anxiety when they are going through psychological therapy to treat their phobia. Medications sometimes used to help treat megalophobia include:
There is currently no cure for megalophobia, 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 megalophobia. So far, they’ve found that the risk factors for developing megalophobia 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 megalophobia, avoiding situations that involve large objects can prevent you from enjoying certain things in life like traveling and can lower your overall quality of life. This is why it’s important to seek treatment. Everyone deserves a high quality of life.
Research has shown that exposure therapy is successful in treating megalophobia and other specific phobias. People who have a specific phobia, like megalophobia, and don’t seek treatment are two times more likely to develop an anxiety disorder and depression.
It can be uncomfortable, but it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider if you’re experiencing the signs and symptoms of megalophobia. Therapy can help you overcome your megalophobia.
If you’ve already been diagnosed with megalophobia, 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 provider if you have megalophobia:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
If you have megalophobia, know that you are not alone. Many people all over the world have a phobia. Avoiding large objects can provide short-term relief, but this doesn’t address the underlying cause of your fear and anxiety. Although it can be difficult and uncomfortable, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider and seek proper treatment for your megalophobia. The sooner you seek help, the sooner you can take back control of your life.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/20/2021.
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