Alektorophobia (Fear of Chickens or Hens)
What is alektorophobia?
Alektorophobia is an intense, uncontrollable fear of chickens. People with alektorophobia have excessive fear and anxiety around roosters or hens. They don’t feel fear around any other animal or bird (ornithophobia). The term comes from the Greek words “phobos,” meaning fear, and “alektor,” meaning rooster.
Fear of chickens is a specific phobia. Like all specific phobias, the focus of the phobia doesn’t present a real threat. Many people with phobias know the fear isn’t rational, but they struggle to control symptoms.
How common is alektorophobia?
It’s hard knowing exactly how many people have a specific phobia, like alektorophobia (fear of chickens). Many people may keep this fear to themselves or may not recognize they have it. We do know that about 1 in 10 American adults and 1 in 5 teenagers will deal with a specific phobia disorder at some point in their lives, though.
Who might get alektorophobia?
Some people are afraid of chickens for no known reason. But you may be more likely to develop alektorophobia when you:
- Are younger than 10.
- Experienced or witnessed a traumatic event involving a chicken.
- Grew up or live in a rural area.
- Have someone else in your family who’s afraid of chickens.
- Have a family history of other anxiety disorders.
Symptoms and Causes
What causes alektorophobia?
Experts can’t always identify a root cause of a phobia. Researchers are still learning more about phobias. There may be a genetic factor. Sometimes, you may link your fear to one negative experience in the past.
When you have a negative or scary experience, a part of your brain called the amygdala records your feelings about that experience. When something reminds you of that experience, such as seeing a chicken, your amygdala reminds you of how you felt.
What are the symptoms of alektorophobia?
Phobias can cause both physical and psychological symptoms. Symptoms can range from mild discomfort to severe panic attacks. A panic attack is a sudden feeling of intense terror or fear that causes a physical reaction.
When you have physical symptoms, it’s typically because the fear you feel causes a boost in adrenaline. Your body releases this hormone when you’re stressed.
Your body has a “fight-or-flight” response. You may experience:
- Dizziness and lightheadedness.
- Excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis).
- Heart palpitations.
- Shortness of breath (dyspnea).
- Trembling or shaking.
- Upset stomach or indigestion (dyspepsia).
Psychological symptoms of alektorophobia may include:
- Avoiding chickens or images of them.
- Dreading the thought of seeing or interacting with a chicken.
- Feeling guilt or shame about the fear of chickens.
Children who have a fear of chickens, hens or roosters may also:
- Cling to parents.
- Cry uncontrollably.
- Throw temper tantrums.
Diagnosis and Tests
How is alektorophobia diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider may ask you questions to determine if the fear you experience around chickens is a specific phobia. Sometimes, physical symptoms may relate to a different anxiety condition.
Your healthcare provider may ask if you experience:
- Extreme avoidance of seeing or even thinking about chickens.
- Fear or anxiety that lasts six months or longer.
- Feelings of panic that are extreme compared to the actual threat a hen or other chicken may pose.
- Immediate dread or panic at the thought of seeing a chicken.
- Symptoms that interfere with your daily routine or usual functioning.
- Worsening anxiety when you know you might see a chicken.
Management and Treatment
How is alektorophobia treated?
Alektorophobia treatment often involves a combination of approaches. The overall goal is to help you live a higher quality of life without disruptions. Your healthcare provider may recommend:
- Exposure therapy is often the first treatment for a specific phobia. You learn to manage anxiety or fear by gradually introducing the specific fear into your life. For example, you may practice looking at pictures of chickens, watching videos or thinking about chickens. Exposure therapy relieves symptoms for most people who do it faithfully. It’s often the only treatment people need for specific phobias.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) involves talking with a therapist about your symptoms. You learn to pinpoint thoughts that may be fearful and train yourself to replace those thoughts with more rational ones. You may do CBT as a standalone treatment or with exposure therapy.
- Medications are a less common phobia treatment, but they may help you get through a situation or event where you know you’ll see chickens.
How can I overcome a fear of chickens?
Many people have fewer and less frequent symptoms with proper treatment. Some people may overcome the fear of chickens, while others may deal with symptoms long-term.
When you interact with or are exposed to a chicken or hen, you may lessen symptoms of anxiety by:
How can I prevent alektorophobia?
There isn’t a guaranteed way to prevent specific phobias. You may reduce the intensity or frequency of symptoms by living a healthy lifestyle. You may:
- Eat a diet full of lean protein, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats.
- Exercise at least 150 minutes per week.
- Prevent dehydration by drinking lots of water and limiting caffeine and alcohol.
- Sleep for a minimum of seven to eight hours each night.
- Speak with loved ones often to decrease your risk of social isolation.
Outlook / Prognosis
Are there long-term effects from alektorophobia?
Thankfully, most people experience symptom improvement with treatment. Untreated alektorophobia can increase your risk for:
What else should I ask my doctor?
You may also want to ask your healthcare provider:
- What’s the most likely cause of a fear of chickens?
- Are there techniques I can use to calm myself when I see a chicken?
- When can I expect symptoms to improve?
- Will the fear of chickens ever go away completely?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Alektorophobia is an intense fear of chickens, roosters or hens. It’s a type of specific phobia. People with alektorophobia often recognize that the intense fear isn’t proportional to the real threat of chickens. Still, it’s difficult to control symptoms. Treatment may include exposure therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy or medication. Some people overcome the fear of chickens, while others may manage symptoms long-term.
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