What is Aulophobia? (A Summary)
In this blog we will discuss the symptoms, causes and treatment of Aulophobia.
An intense fear of flutes is called Aulophobia. It is a type of specific phobia which comes under the category of anxiety disorders in the DSM-V.
Someone suffering from it experiences extreme anxiety when exposed to the sound of flutes. They can become anxious even at the thought of flutes.
One suffers from panic attacks as a result of excess anxiety. This can also lead to hospitalization, if not treated on time.
This phobia is not specific to a particular group but people of all ages suffer from it, if they have the tendency to develop it.
Aulophobia is an irrational fear. This is because flutes are objects which are completely harmless.
They have the work to produce sound, which is soothing to many but can be irritating to others.
Despite this, they are not potentially life threatening like Iophobia (fear of poison) is for example.
Still, someone suffering from it tries to avoid their fear stimuli (flutes) in order to evade the anxiety one experiences when exposed to it.
Sufferers are unable to rationalise their fear, as it is out of the touch of reality.
However, the pleasant feelings produced by avoidance result in one feeling safe. This maintains their phobia because it justifies the fear of flutes.
According to the DSM-V, anxiety which leads to avoidance affects one’s social and occupational functioning.
For example, one will avoid going to parties or concerts where they feel they might encounter flutes.
They will show reluctance in going to school on the day of their music class because they’ll be exposed to flutes.
This can result in one lacking in his academics which will in turn affect their future careers.
Aulophobia is an irrational fear of flutes. Sufferers experience extreme anxiety when exposed to flutes or to the sound of it.
Symptoms of Aulophobia
As with all the other specific phobias, anxiety is the main symptom of Aulophobia. This irrational fear is the driving force, which encourages sufferers to avoid flutes.
This avoidance can be stressful as they will put in all their efforts to escape a fearful situation. As mentioned earlier, this is what affects their social relations and occupations.
Sufferers go into flight or fight mode because of an adrenaline rush. In this state, the body’s physiological responses help one make decisions when in fear causing situations.
They either decide to escape the situation (flight) or stay and combat their fear (fight).
In the case of Aulophobia or any other type of specific phobia, the physiological symptoms that are produced when exposed to flutes (including extreme anxiety) cause the person to escape or avoid that situation.
Sufferers don’t have the courage to fight with their fear because of the unpleasant, terrifying experience the body goes through.
Including anxiety, Aulophobia also causes a number of other symptoms in the sufferer. They are as follows:
- Extreme anxiety in the presence of flutes
- Extreme anxiety by just thinking about flutes
- Avoiding flutes
- Full-blown panic attacks
- Inability to handle anxiety
- Muscle tension/tremors
- Increased heart rate
- Inability to breathe properly/increased breathing rate
- Feeling dizzy
- Hot/cold flashes
- Butterflies in the stomach
According to the DSM-V criteria, to diagnose one with Aulophobia, anxiety and or acts of avoidance should be present for at least 6-months.
Out of a list of the symptoms mentioned above, one should experience at least 3-5 symptoms (including anxiety).
Causes of Aulophobia
Like every other specific phobia, Aulophobia is a result of either genetics or a past traumatic experience.
Someone who has a family history of anxiety disorders or specific phobias has a higher chance of developing Aulophobia than someone who doesn’t.
This is because they are genetically predisposed to develop it.
This genetic tendency to develop a mental disorder/specific phobia can also be referred to as a Diathesis-stress relationship.
According to this, one with a genetic predisposition will not develop symptoms of Aulophobia until and unless there is some trigger event, instigating anxiety or fear of flutes.
This trigger event can be for example, one may associate the sound of flute with an emergency, maybe because of the fact that at times the sound of siren and flutes matches.
Also, one might see the sound of flute/flute as threatening because many films show the use of flutes when one dies or something bad is about to happen.
People who suffer from a fear of sound can also develop Aulophobia because the sound of flutes is too shrill at times, causing one to feel extremely uncomfortable.
Therefore, Aulophobia is developed by both genetics and environmental factors.
Treatment of Aulophobia
Aulophobia like all other specific phobias has no exclusive type of treatment that is specifically designed to treat it.
Like all the other specific phobias, Aulophobia is treated by a number of different therapies including, Exposure Therapy, Cognitive-behavioral Therapy (CBT) and or medications that lower downs the anxiety or other physical symptoms.
• Exposure Therapy
It is one of the most frequently used ways of treating patients with Aulophobia (or any other kind of specific phobia).
In this therapy, the patient is exposed to the source of his fear over a certain span of time.
To begin with the therapy, the therapist exposes the patient to the least triggering stimuli, a picture of flutes for example.
As the therapy progresses and the patient is able to control his anxious feelings, imagery can be used to take the treatment a step further.
In this part of the treatment the patient is asked to visualize/imagine a situation in which he hears the sound of a flute.
During this process of imagery, one actually feels being in that particular situation or place, experiencing various senses.
Once the person successfully, without feeling anxious clears this step of the therapy, he is then exposed to real flutes/the sound of it.
While the patient is being exposed to different intensities of stimuli during the various stages of therapy, the therapist simultaneously teaches them coping exercises.
These include, breathing techniques or muscle relaxation methods to lower their anxiety, when in an actual fear/anxiety causing situation.
This teaches them how to remain calm when exposed to the fear stimuli.
Before actually starting the exposure therapy, the therapist needs to figure out the intensity of the patient’s fear, as to deduce whether they will be able to undergo this treatment, without any physical or psychological harm caused to them during the exposure processes.
However, these steps desensitize one to their fear of flutes, by exposing them to that stimuli repeatedly, until they learn to undergo the situation without anxiety/panic attacks.
• Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
It is one of the most frequently used treatments for patients with almost all kinds of mental disorders. Aulophobia is defined as the irrational fear of flutes.
Thus, the therapist helps the patient in replacing these irrational thoughts with more rational ones.
The patients are helped out in analyzing and justifying the way they feel about being exposed to flutes.
Therapists assist them in uncovering the reasons behind their fear and later they provide them with alternate, pleasant thoughts.
The patient is told to maintain a thought diary (with ABCD column) which provides them a replacement for every irrational thought they have, when thinking about a particular situation.
The ABCD stands for:
I A (antecedents) a situation or triggering event.
Ii. B (belief) the thought that comes to one’s mind when in that triggering situation.
Iii C (consequences) the symptoms/feelings caused by that event/thought
Iv D (dispute) alternate, rational thoughts provided by the therapist in an attempt to dispute/challenge those irrational beliefs.
This last section of the thought diary is what really plays a role in helping the person feel good/less anxious.
• Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
This is another effective therapy used to treat Aulophobia.
It is more commonly used with people suffering from personality disorders, but is also useful with patients of this ‘animal’ specific phobia.
Coping skills are taught in the DBT group which lasts for about 6-months and can have a number of people (depending on how many join the group).
i.Half-smiling is the first module of DBT. It is a technique that is used with patients who are distressed because of their irrational thoughts.
The technique is known as ‘Half-smiling’ because the person is first advised to think about the stimuli that fears or upsets them, and while doing so they are told to lift the corners of their mouths by subtly smiling.
Smiling is not that will help one get rid of these unpleasant thoughts, it is the person’s ability to constrain itself from thinking about those thoughts while half smiling.
ii.Mindfulness, the second module, is another technique used in DBT groups which helps the individual in getting rid of those negative thoughts.
Individuals are told to focus on the present and be attentive to what is going on around them at the moment. This helps in breaking the link between their mind and any negative thought that might come to them then.
For example, a person is told to focus on his breath or on the sound of the blowing wind, making use of their auditory sense.
iii.The third technique or module of the DBT is distress tolerance skills. This module teaches people to calm themselves down in healthy ways when they are distressed or emotionally overwhelmed.
Individuals are allowed to make wise, rational decisions and take immediate action, rather than being captured by emotionally destructive thoughts that might make the situation worse.
Reality acceptance skills are also learnt under this model so that people fully accept reality and later make plans on how to address the problem/fearful aspects to it.
• Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
MBSR is a meditation therapy, used to manage stress or anxiety. It is an 8-week program which includes group sessions.
Mindfulness meditation and Hatha yoga are practiced in these sessions, lectures and group discussions are also done to talk about mental health and increase interactivity.
In mindfulness meditation the person is told to, for example, to focus on the sensations felt while breathing or the rhythm of the chest rising and falling during the process.
This distracts the person’s attention from something stressful to something which is neutral and soothing.
For quick and effective treatment, patients are also given a set of home works, for example 45 minutes of yoga and meditation, 6 days a week and to record their results/feelings in a book or diary for 15 minutes a day.
• Drug Therapy
Drugs are used to reduce the physical symptoms caused by Aulophobia.
Drugs are very quick in effectiveness, as they start showing progress in the patients’ health at least 2 weeks after the medicine is taken.
This type of biological treatment is usually more effective if the cause of the phobia is only genetic.
However, these drugs/medicines are not to be taken without a doctor’s prescription or consultation.
Two types of drugs are used in the treatment of this phobia:
i. Anti-anxiety Drugs
Medicines like Valium are anti-anxiety drugs. They are most commonly used with patients who experience panic attacks and also lowers their anxiety by binding to receptor cells of the brain that cause these unpleasant symptoms.
ii. Antidepressant Drugs
These drugs, as the name suggests don’t only treat depression but are also very effective in treating phobias.
Medicines like Lexapro reduce the anxious feelings of a person and makes him feel calm.
They need to be taken on a daily basis but not without a doctor’s advice.
They are not just one of the many treatment therapies used for Aulophobia, instead they are one of the most common ways of relaxation used by many people.
Yoga tends to stimulate the meditative state of one’s mind while a person is in a particular yoga posture.
Through yoga/meditation the mind is diverted towards something more productive and calm, allowing the person to escape the negative, distress causing thoughts.
Out of a number of yoga types, one can benefit from any yoga type/pose they like. Hatha yoga is one of the different types of yoga.
The breathing techniques or the imagery one creates while in a yoga posture are the real factors that makes the person feel less anxious and diverts their mind, away from the thoughts about flutes.
Whether the cause of Aulophobia, or any other type of specific phobia is genetics, environmental or both, the best and the most effective way of treating them is by using a combination of both biological treatments (drugs) with cognitive treatment (for example CBT/exposure therapy).
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What we recommend for Phobias
- If you are suffering from Phobias then ongoing professional counselling could be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you address the fears you are facing.
Weighted Blankets may help you sleep better if your phobias are affecting your quality of sleep. Weighted blankets apply enough weight on you that they make you feel much more relaxed and calm at night.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1) What are the causes of Aulophobia?
Aulophobia is the fear of being flutes.
It is caused by a number of factors including genetic predisposition or a family history.
Another cause could be a past traumatic event experienced by an individual.
Q2) What are the symptoms of Aulophobia?
Symptoms of Aulophobia include extreme anxiety, full-blown panic attacks, inability to avoid anxiety, repeated acts of avoidance, nausea, breathlessness etc.
Q3) How do you treat Aulophobia?
Aulophobia is treated by a number of therapies, such as Cognitive-Behavioral therapy, DBT, Yoga and or medicines like anti-anxiety drugs.
Q4) Do I have Aulophobia?
One can be diagnosed with Aulophobia if they are suffering from extreme anxiety since at least 6-months.
In addition, this anxiety must affect one’s social and occupational functioning, accompanied by a number of other physiological symptoms.
Below is a complete list of all Phobias which we currently cover.
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