In this blog we will discuss the symptoms, causes and treatment of Nudophobia.
An intense fear of nudity is called Nudophobia. It is a type of specific phobia which comes under the category of anxiety disorder in the DSM-V.
Someone suffering from it will experience extreme anxiety when exposed to nudity (seeing other people or oneself nude).
Even the thought of seeing oneself or others nude can trigger high levels of anxiety. If the condition worsens, one may experience panic attacks.
Nudity is a shameful act, prohibited in many countries.
People fear getting exposed to nudity because of their values and norms. However, in Nudophobia,
one suffers from terror and stress if they are exposed to nudity in any way.
In order to minimize these intrusive thoughts and feelings, one avoids getting exposed to their fear stimuli.
This avoidance is repetitive because of the pleasant feelings it produces by eliminating anxiety.
The sufferer keeps on repeating avoidance and this results in one’s fear being maintained.
In the long run, one can develop OCD due to recurrent acts of avoidance turning into compulsions.
According to the DSM-V, this avoidance, caused by anxiety in Nudophobia affects one’s social and occupational functioning.
For example, one will try to cover their body by dressing conservatively to avoid any of their body parts being exposed.
Someone suffering from Nudophobia will refrain from going to parties and or places they feel one might get exposed to nudity.
They will also avoid posting or sharing their pictures on social media.
In some cases, a sufferer won’t share his room or washroom with his siblings as an attempt to avoid nudity.
This social and occupational dysfunction can lead to depression.
Nudophobia is an irrational fear of nudity. It is a type of specific phobia in which one fears seeing oneself, others or both nude.
Symptoms of Nudophobia
People with Nudophobia, like in all other specific phobias, experience intense anxiety when exposed to nudity.
They’re unable to control this anxiety and thus, end up feeling more anxious.
This anxiety, in extreme cases, can give rise to full-blown panic attacks.
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)-faint or suffer panic attacks or stay and combat their fear (fight)-by taking counterproductive steps.
Symptoms one suffers from in Nudophobia, including anxiety are as follows:
- Extreme anxiety when exposed to nudity
- Extreme anxiety when thinking of nudity
- Inability to manage anxiety
- Full-blown panic attacks
- Avoiding nudity
- Increased heart beat
- Muscle tension/tremors
- Feelings of dizziness/fainting
- Fear of an impending doom
- Excessive sweating
- Butterflies in the stomach
- Drying up of the mouth
Out of these, one should experience at least 3-5 symptoms, including anxiety lasting for at least 6-months, to be diagnosed with Nudophobia.
Causes of Nudophobia
Nudophobia, like all other phobias, has no known cause.
In this phobia, one is fearful of nudity because of their ethical/moral values and or fear or past experiences.
Specific phobias can be a result of a number of factors such as biological (genetics) and or environmental (past experiences or social learning).
Genetics refers to the genes and neurotransmitters in our body.
Someone with a family history of a phobia/mental disorder has a higher chance of having the same or different disorder in the future.
This is because the genes of the parents are transferred to their children, thus any alteration in the genes of one’s parents is inherited by the child.
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 Nudophobia until and unless there is some trigger event.
A trigger event can be for example, someone who fears getting punished or charged under law will be fearful of nudity, as many countries and cultures prohibit this act.
Or, maybe one was punished or beaten up by parents because of their act.
One of the most important reasons as to why one develops Nudophobia can be being sexually abused or harassed in childhood.
One can develop a fear of nudity because of the feelings of shame and disgust their past experience caused.
Additionally, someone who was bullied or shamed because of their nude pictures being leaked or nudity being exposed can also develop Nudophobia.
Thus, Nudophobia is caused by a number of environmental factors, accompanied by a genetic predisposition.
Treatment of Nudophobia
Nudophobia like all other specific phobias has no exclusive type of treatment that is specifically designed to treat it.
Like all the other specific phobias, Nudophobia 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.
Nudophobia is defined as the irrational fear of nudity.
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 nudity.
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 Nudophobia.
It is more commonly used with people suffering from personality disorders, but is also useful with patients of this 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 Nudophobia.
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:
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 Nudophobia, 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 nudity.
Whether the cause of Nudophobia, 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).
Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.
Titles to read
- Overcoming Specific Phobia – Therapist Protocol: A Hierarchy and Exposure-Based Protocol for the Treatment of All Specific Phobias
by Edmund J. Bourne PhD and Matthew McKay PhD
by Jarnail Singh and Janardhan Singh
- Mastery of your Specific Phobia
by Martin M. Antony, Michelle G. Craske, et al
by Joshua L. Liebman
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 is Nudophobia?
It is an irrational fear of nudity. One fears seeing oneself or others nude.
Q2) How is Nudophobia treated?
Like all other specific phobias, Nudophobia is treated using a number of cognitive therapies including, CBT, DBT and medicinal drugs.
Q3) Do I have Nudophobia?
If someone is experiencing extreme anxiety for at least 6-months accompanied with panic attacks, one might be suffering from Nudophobia.
Along with these, one also experiences other physiological symptoms including dizziness, nausea, increased heartbeat etc.
Q4) How is Nudophobia caused?
One can have Nudophobia either due to some genetic predisposition (family history) or some environmental factor (past-traumatic event).
Below is a complete list of all Phobias which we currently cover.