How to Survive Arachnophobia

An old cabin in the woods. Cozy, and wait. What is that? Is that a spider? Agh. The walls are covered with huge spiders. Your quiet retreat is now the perfect setting for a horror movie. Fear paralyzes your body, you can feel their creeping legs crawling all across your skin. Your chest starts to hurt. You’re choking. Arachnophobia is an anxiety disorder that affects more than 420 million people around the world. That’s more than 6% of the global population. If you’re affected by this phobia, you can experience a variety of serious symptoms, like a heart rate of over 100 bpm tightness in the chest, choking sensations, dizziness, and disorientation. To cope, you might arrange your entire life trying to avoid the source of this overwhelming fear. But spiders are everywhere. It’s almost impossible to avoid them. In Wales, a 38-year-old doctor was driving her car when a large spider dropped from the car’s sun visor onto her lap, causing what she called a “blind panic” episode. She lost control of the wheel, veered across the roadway, and crashed into the vehicle of an 87-year-old man who later died in hospital. The woman pleaded guilty and argued in court she had severe arachnophobia. She was banned from driving for one year. So, before trying to wildly escape from that little creature, assess your current surroundings and respond in a calm, composed manner. There are more than 40,000 known species of spiders out there. Most of them are venomous, but only 2% can be dangerous to humans. And only 30 species have been responsible for human deaths. Ok, it’s true. On average seven people die from spiders every year just in the United States. That’s seven times more than people who die from shark attacks. I’ll give you that. But the deadlier spiders such as the black widow and the brown recluse, only bite if they feel threatened. So be considerate and get out of their way. After all, the best way to keep your fear of spiders in check is to avoid them. Stay away from areas where spiders are known to inhabit such as rocks and woodpiles, and make sure they aren’t right outside your home. Although we can say almost all spiders are carnivorous, that’s exactly why we should be thankful. They kill a lot of unwelcome, disease-carrying pests, like mosquitos and flies. They also eat harmful fungus and other creepy crawlies in your home. Fortunately, treatments for arachnophobia have very high success rates. Between 75% to 95% of people undergoing treatment show a marked improvement and are able to effectively cure this phobia. The problem is that less than 20% of people who fear spiders decide to seek out help. Is it because real spiders are often used in many of these treatments? Maybe, but virtual reality exposure therapy can also be used with the same effectiveness. There are new treatments available that don’t even use pictures of spiders, but rather, images with spider-like characteristics. Sure, everyone should want to rid a paralyzing fear of creatures that lurk everywhere and are crucial for our environment. But where did this fear come from in the first place? Scientists discovered our fear of spiders could have an evolutionary origin. They showed spider images to 6-month-old babies and found their pupils dilated almost five times more than when they were shown pictures of flowers. Since the children were so young, they couldn’t understand what they were looking at, or if it had any cultural meaning. Therefore, scientists concluded their stress response toward spiders could be inherited genetically instead of being culturally developed. Ok. So you’ve managed to handle yourself well. You didn’t freak out, you kept out of the spider’s way, and you’re now grateful for its helpful services. But you’re still not able to find the path back to your campsite, and it’s getting dark. How will you survive lost and alone in the forest? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered on How to Survive Alone in The Forest. Remember to like and subscribe for more survival tips, here on How to Survive.

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