Katsaridaphobia (Fear Of Cockroaches)


Katsaridaphobia or the fear of cockroaches is a morbid and extreme fear of cockroaches. The fear is irrational because the insect poses no physical threat or danger to humans.


What is katsaridaphobia?

Katsaridaphobics live in constant fear that cockroaches can be anywhere and are always on the lookout for them.

It is normal for people to feel uncomfortable around creepy, crawly bugs and insects. They may be programmed to think insects and crawling creatures are harmful. But being morbidly afraid of roaches can be debilitating as much as it can be a nightmare for people with this phobia.

Individuals who fear cockroaches tend to become obsessed with keeping the insect out and away from their homes, cars, and any physical space they occupy. This preoccupation with cockroaches may cause heightened anxiety and even panic attacks. Not surprisingly, their quality of life is often affected to the point where clinical treatment may become necessary.

What are the symptoms of katsaridaphobia?

As with other phobias, the symptoms of katsaridaphobia will vary from one person to another. What triggers the symptoms will also vary between phobics. Some may have several things that trigger their phobia and symptoms. The severity of the symptoms also depends on the intensity of the fear.

Some common symptoms of katsaridaphobia, or the fear of cockroaches, are as follows:

  • Intense anxiety when exposed to cockroaches
  • “Freezing” on the spot
  • Sense of cockroaches crawling over the body
  • Avoiding places where cockroaches could be
  • Panic attacks triggered by exposure
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Weakness
  • Pain or tightness in the chest
  • Fainting
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands
  • Troubled breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of control, for example screaming hysterically

Katsaridaphobia causes

Katsaridaphobia may be a specific phobia that does not have a specific cause. Traumatic childhood experiences often form the core reason for phobias in adults, but there are other possible causes. There are various causes of katsaridaphobia, though the reason for the fear of cockroaches may differ between people. Some commonly known causes include:


A negative or traumatic experience can be the source of katsaridaphobia. Being bitten by a cockroach, encountering a nest of roaches, or experiencing a roach crawling on them can cause people to become katsaridaphobic. The phobic could have been the victim of a cockroach prank or forced to endure spaces infested by the pest. Such negative experiences, especially in childhood, place a person at risk for developing this phobia.


Adults who, as children, saw their parents or caregivers show extreme fear for cockroaches may develop katsaridaphobia. They are led to believe cockroaches are dangerous and should be feared and avoided at all costs. These adults may not even realize they are transferring the fear to their children.

Allergy: Allergies can cause people to be terrified of coming into contact with the allergen that triggers an allergic reaction. People who are allergic to insects, and in this case cockroaches, could develop an intense and irrational fear of roaches.

How is katsaridaphobia treated?

Katsaridaphobia is treatable, but treatment is not one size fits all. Various forms of treatment have proven effective in alleviating the fear of cockroaches, especially therapy. A person can use a treatment that best suits them, or they can use a combination of treatments.

Reducing or eliminating the fear depends on the severity of the fear, how willing the person is to be treated, and their ability to access treatment. The following are some common treatments available which can effectively treat cockroach phobia:

Exposure Therapy

This type of therapy seeks to have the phobe “face their fears” by exposing them to cockroaches. It is usually done gradually with increasing intensity of exposure until the individual loses their fear of roaches. This manner of desensitizing a client is one of the most effective ways to treat the phobia. But it can also be the most challenging since it uses the object of the fear as its method of ‘cure.’

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Phobias are fears that exist in the subconscious mind. There are not like disorders that have an underlying biological or physiological cause. This makes it easy for the fear to be treated with cognitive therapy. CBT uses strategic clinical techniques aimed at changing the way the individual thinks of and reacts to cockroaches. As the client begins to mentally ‘rewire’ their views of cockroaches, the fear gradually diminishes. Most people fully recover from their fears.


The use of medication can help treat some of the symptoms related to katsaridaphobia. However, it cannot eliminate the source of the phobia. Specifically, these medications are designed to treat symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks which occur when katsaridaphobia is triggered.


Another way to treat the fear of cockroaches is through hypnosis. Hypnotherapy involves placing the phobic in a sedated mental state where he or she is able to confront the fear without panicking or becoming anxious. During hypnosis, the phobic is completely conscious, aware, and in control. Hypnotherapy can permanently rewire the brain against the fear of cockroaches.


Videos, audio DVDs, books, articles and other materials are available as self-help tools to help katsaridaphobics understand the phobia. They teach coping skills and techniques. Like medication, they may easily treat the symptoms instead of the root cause of the fear. This is why therapy has been proven more effective in treating phobias, including katsaridaphobia.

Relaxation techniques

People with a fear of cockroaches are usually in a heightened state of awareness and constantly on the lookout for these pests. Meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises can be used to help them take their mind off the fear. Relaxation techniques can temporarily relieve the symptoms of katsaridaphobia, but a more effective form of treatment such as exposure therapy may ultimately be necessary.

Katsaridaphobia prevention

Phobias including katsaridaphobia or the fear of cockroaches cannot be prevented. Parenting styles that avoid instilling fear about roaches can help to some extent.

Cockroaches are small insects and can easily invade personal space unnoticed. People with a cockroach phobia can have a difficult time ensuring that their living, working, and social environments are roach-free. As a preventative measure, they can reduce contact with roaches by keeping their surroundings clean. Pest control services can also be used to get rid of roaches for additional peace of mind. However, an obsessive desire to keep cockroaches away can result in obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).