What is Macrophobia? (An Overview)
In this blog we will discuss the symptoms, causes and treatments of Macrophobia.
What is Macrophobia?
Macrophobia is the fear of long waits, and the word Macrophobia comes from the Greek word “macro” meaning “long”. Macrophobia may happen to the kind of people who tend to end up waiting in queues for a long time very frequently. People with macrophobia may avoid any situation in which they may have to wait.
An intense fear of long waits is called Macrophobia. It is a type of specific phobia which comes under the category of anxiety disorders in the DSM-V.
Someone suffering from it will experience extreme anxiety when exposed to a situation where they have to wait for a very long time.
Even the thought of long waits can instigate extreme anxiety. One can even undergo full-blown panic attacks if the condition worsens.
Therefore, to evade the unpleasant feelings long waits produce, one avoids getting in a fear causing situation.
These acts of avoiding the fear stimuli are repeated because they make one feel safe and or eliminate anxiety.
Repetitive acts of avoidance can turn into compulsions and someone suffering from Macrophobia can develop OCD.
People dislike long waits because of the eagerness to know what lies ahead of them and or the feelings of irritability it causes.
However, someone who suffers from Macrophobia will get extremely terrified at the exposure to/thought of long waits. Their fear is completely irrational and out of touch with reality.
According to the DSM-V, anxiety and avoidance affects one’s social and occupational functioning.
For example, one will avoid eating food in a canteen at school, instead bring lunch with them from home or not eat at all.
A sufferer will refrain from ordering food because they can’t withstand the long waits.
Someone will prefer buying things from a shop which is less populated instead of online shopping, otherwise they’ll have to wait for the order to be delivered in weeks time.
They can’t manage the anxiety they feel when any of their daily activities are delayed.
Macrophobia is the irrational fear of long waits. The name originates from the Greek word ‘macro’ meaning long (in terms of duration) and ‘phobos’ meaning fear.
Symptoms of Macrophobia
Like in the case of all other specific phobias, Macrophobia too has anxiety as its focal symptom.
Individuals suffering from an irrational fear of long waits suffer from extreme anxiety which, as mentioned earlier, can result in one having panic attacks.
When one undergoes extreme anxiety, the body experiences other physiological symptoms as well. Such as increased heart rate or palpitations.
When the sufferer thinks about waiting for a very long time, he goes 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)-faint or suffer from panic attacks or stay and combat their fear (fight)-by taking counterproductive actions.
Sufferers of Macrophobia experience symptoms in different ways. One might have more severe symptoms than the other, based on their past experiences and intensity of the phobia.
Though, as the DSM-5 suggests, one must experience anxiety lasting for at least 6-months.
Symptoms one experiences in Macrophobia are:
- Excessive anxiety when exposed to long waits
- Excessive anxiety when thinking about long waits
- Inability to manage anxiety
- Full-blown panic attacks
- Avoiding long waits
- Increased heart beat
- Muscle tension
- Feeling depressed
- Fear of an impending doom
- Excessive sweating
- Hot/cold flashes
- Butterflies in the stomach
- Drying up of the mouth
For one to be diagnosed with Macrophobia, a person should experience at least 3-5 of these symptoms (including anxiety).
Causes of Macrophobia
Like every other specific phobia, Macrophobia 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 Macrophobia than someone who doesn’t.
This is because they are genetically predisposed to develop it.
Genes and neurotransmitters also play a significant role in this genetic predisposition.
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 Macrophobia until and unless there is some trigger event, instigating anxiety or fear related to long waits.
A trigger event can be for example a past traumatic experience associated with long waits.
One may fear long waits because as a child one might’ve waited to see his parent(s) but unfortunately they died in an accident and he was never able to see them.
Therefore, he may have associated this uncertain incident with long waits.
One can fear long waits because of the feeling of anticipation it causes, of what lies in the future (good or bad).
Also, perhaps waiting in long queues on a sunny day might have resulted in one fainting or feeling fatigued.
Thus, the sufferer felt uncomfortable because of these incidents and developed Macrophobia.
Therefore, fear of fatigue (Kopophobia) and fear of fainting or weakness (Asthenophobia) can also be a reason why one develops Macrophobia.
To conclude, genetics and environmental factors play significant roles in causing Macrophobia.
Treatment of Macrophobia
Macroophobia, like all other specific phobias, has no exclusive type of treatment that is specifically designed to treat it.
Like all the other specific phobias, Macrophobia is treated by a number of different therapies including, Cognitive-behavioral Therapy (CBT) and or medications that lower downs the anxiety or other physical symptoms.
• Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
It is one of the most frequently used treatments for patients with almost all kinds of mental disorders.
Macrophobia is defined as the irrational fear of long waits 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 their fear stimuli.
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.
• 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, 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 sessions for 6 days a week and to record their results/feelings in a book or diary for 15 minutes a day.
This another form of treatment used with patients suffering from specific phobia or anxiety disorders. It is used with patients who know the cause of their phobia.
First, the therapist collects the patients’ history of different fears. They then identify the real cause of the particular fear/phobia the patient has.
They then discuss any new/latest event that triggered their anxiety and fear in the past few weeks.
People coming with specific phobias are told to imagine their distress causing stimuli.
The therapist then works with the individual in order for them to overcome their fear. In the case of Macrophobia, the patient will be advised on how to overcome his fear of long waits.
They do this by creating a positive imagery for the patients’ feared stimuli.
• Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
This is another effective therapy used to treat Macrophobia.
It is more commonly used with people suffering from personality disorders, but is also useful with patients suffering from this type of 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 wind around them, 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.
They are not just one of the many treatment therapies used for Macrophobia, 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 the 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 their fear stimuli.
• Drug Therapy
Drugs are used to reduce the physical symptoms caused by Macrophobia.
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. Antidepressant Drugs
These drugs, as the name suggests don’t only treat depression but are also very effective in treating phobias.
Medicines like Paxil 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.
Medicines like Klonopin 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.
Whether the cause of Macrophobia, 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).
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1) What is Megalophobia?
It is the irrational fear of large objects.
Q2) What causes Macrophobia?
A genetic predisposition and or environmental factors can lead one to have Macrophobia.
Q3) What are the symptoms of Macrophobia?
Extreme anxiety, panic attacks, nausea, breathlessness are some of the symptoms one may experience in Macrophobia
Q4) Is Macrophobia curable?
Yes. Like all other specific phobias, Macrophobia too can be treated using a number of cognitive therapies and or medicinal drugs.