Riding a bike is one of the fun games that one gets to experience during his/her lifetime. However, when you begin to fear to have to touch a bike, let alone ride it, you just might be dealing with a type of phobia known as Cyclophobia.
Cyclophobia can be defined as the irrational fear of bicycles. People who experience cyclophobia are often afraid of anything that has to do with bicycles. A person who is experiencing this fear will find out that the mere thought of riding a bike let alone actually riding it is very scary.
In some cases, a person who has cyclophobia, due to their fears, may begin to experience extreme forms of anxiety which can, in turn, lead to full-blown panic attacks. In the long run, such traumatising experiences that the person has to face will only further deepen their fear of bicycles.
According to psychiatrists, cyclophobia can become an intrusive condition, and it is often seen in people who live in places where bicycles or bikes, in general, are commonly used as a means of transportation. In this kind of environment, a person who suffers from cyclophobia can expect to keep experiencing anxieties as they go about their daily lifestyle.
Just like other phobias, people who have cyclophobia (and possibly live in areas where bikes and bicycles are commonly used) will avoid going to specific areas such as the highway, junctions and parks in order to avoid their fears.
Most people with cyclophobia will always prefer staying indoors for as long as they can (maybe only going out for necessities that can’t be supplied to their homes), just to avoid their fears. Although by doing this, they can control their anxieties for a brief period; however, this act of avoidance will only lead to the further worsening of their symptoms and condition.
According to psychiatrists, most people who have presented with cyclophobia understand that their fears are irrational, however, when they are confronted with it (maybe on the highway), they lack the ability to maintain their previous rational disposition; hence anxiety and panic attacks may set in.
Causes of Cyclophobia
Just like other phobias, cyclophobia doesn’t have a known cause. However, research has been able to list certain factors which, when added up, can cause a person to develop cyclophobia. These factors include:
Every human is made up of genes. Genes are inherited traits that can present in a person. Although, you are unique in your own way, however, there are traces of your parents and by extension family in you.
If your parents or any member of your family have previously experienced any anxiety or mental disorder such as levophobia, autophobia, schizophrenia and so on, there is a tendency that you may develop an anxiety disorder such as cyclophobia.
It is crucial to note that although your parents or family member may have had particular anxiety or mental disorder, e.g. autophobia, this doesn’t mean that you will develop autophobia.
This means that you may not necessarily get to develop the same disorder as your family member. You may develop other disorders such as cyclophobia.
Although you have a genetic predisposition to developing phobias, without an environmental factor to serve as a trigger, that genetic predisposition will lie dormant in you.
Hence, it has been seen that most people who have developed cyclophobia had previously had a traumatic event that has triggered their fear of bicycles and bikes.
In most cases, such traumatic events may have been a ghastly accident that had occurred in their presence. In other cases, it could be that one of their loved ones was hit (possibly killed) in a bike accident hence triggering their intense irrational fear.
Also, asides traumatic experiences, some people who have cyclophobia have developed it due to the kind of upbringing they have had. Some people have been raised by parents who have instilled the fear of bicycles in them.
Most of these parents themselves have harboured the fear of bicycles and therefore, may pass on this fear to their children.
Symptoms of Cyclophobia
Phobias shouldn’t be handled lightly. This is because they often have the ability to limit a person’s productivity. According to research, phobias have the capacity to cause depression in the life of the sufferer.
People who have cyclophobia often avoid their triggers, and as such, they will try to avoid places where bikes and bicycles are mostly seen. In cases where they can’t avoid these situations, they will begin to experience certain symptoms. These symptoms can be categorised into two groups;
People who have cyclophobia will experience anxiety as a primary symptom. In most cases, the panic attacks that they experience can result in frightening and distressing situations.
It should be noted that in most cases, these symptoms often come without prior warnings. Panic attacks can be overwhelming and can result in symptoms that manifest physically.
Some of these symptoms include;
- Trembling and tremors
- Chills and hot flushes
- Difficulties in breathing which can eventually cause shortness of breath
- Tachycardia often characterised by the rapid beating of the heart
- Angina characterised by severe pains in the chest
- Tightness in the chest
- Nausea and vomiting
- Numbness in both hands and feet
- Dry mouth
In some cases, the person who has cyclophobia can develop severe psychological symptoms such as;
- Intense fear of losing control
- Fear of fainting
- Fear of dying
- Guilt and shame
- Anger, irritation and mood swings
- Difficulties in concentrating
- Total loss of concentration
Treatment of Cyclophobia
Just like other phobias, cyclophobia has no known cause, and as such, there are no specific treatments that have been set aside for treating only cyclophobia.
However, there are certain treatments that have been seen to be very effective in treating phobias.
Talk therapies also known as therapies are counselling sessions where you get to speak to a therapist about how you think or behave, and they, in turn, will help you understand your why you act the way you do, as well as possible solutions to help you eliminate your fears.
Generally, therapy aims at doing four main things to you.
- help you recognise that there are certain unhealthy patterns present in the way you think, and behave. These patterns are certainly disrupting your life and such, shows you ways in which you can change them.
- help you realise that you may be having complicated feelings as well as show you how to resolve them quickly.
- help you make sense of the happenings in your life and also help you identify ways to change them if they are unpleasant.
- give you a safe place where you can feel comfortable talking to someone you know you can talk to about your feelings.
In treating common phobias such as cyclophobia, there are two types of therapies that have been seen to be effective in treating phobias. They are;
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, commonly known as CBT, is based on the concept that we, as humans are a product of seeing. This means that your behaviour is shaped according to the things you see and perceive.
According to experts, phobias have a way of changing a person’s perspective about life. Anxiety and fear are two terrible combinations that can easily bend or distort your perceived reality.
Hence, what CBT does is to weigh your perception of reality and check if they are an accurate description of reality. If they aren’t, your psychiatrist will help you employ strategies and ways to help you change them.
In an instance where the patients are dealing with the irrational fear of bikes and bicycles (cyclophobia, your therapist can use CBT to find out if the fear and anxiety you are experiencing is as dangerous as the reality of situations.
If it isn’t, your therapist will employ certain strategies to help you change your perspective.
Just as the name implies, exposure therapy deals with you gradually coping with your fear by being exposed to it. Exposure therapy deals with the notion that the more a person avoids his/her fear, the more the phobia grows.
As such, if you are experiencing cyclophobia, your therapist will start getting used to the idea of being on bikes and bicycles. They could start out by showing you pictures of bicycles and motorbikes and then gradually get you used to the idea until you become extremely comfortable being around bikes.
Use of medications
It is always important to note that medications should not be used without the consent of your doctor or therapist who has the history of your condition. Generally, medications are not always the first point of call when it comes to treating phobias; instead, therapies are.
However, in some severe cases, when your phobia is beginning to have side effects and is already disrupting your daily lifestyle, then medications may be prescribed.
It should be noted that the medications that are prescribed are simply to treat the side effects(such as depression) of your phobias. Medications are not responsible for treating the phobia itself.
There are three classes of drugs that are generally prescribed to help deal with the side effects of your phobia.
These involve those routines that you are to make use of on your own to help reduce your anxiety. These routines mostly include the use of yoga and meditations.