Numerophobia (Fear Of Numbers And Calculations)

Numerophobia is an anxiety disorder that refers to an individual’s fear of numbers.

Overview

Numerophobia (arithmophobia) is defined as an individual having fear or trepidation toward numbers. The words Numerophobia and Arithmophobia have Greek/Latin origins with a root word meaning numbers, and the word phobos comes from the Greek word for “intense fear or dislike”.

Many individuals are fearful of numbers. Specific numbers may be feared (Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia is the fear of the number 666 and Octophobia is the fear of the number 8). These fears are typically instigated due to religious or cultural implications that are further fed by folklore or media.

A Numerophobic or Arithmophobic may be fearful of having to add one number to another, or they may have a hatred for complicated mathematical equations. An individual who is fearful of computations may experience intense terror or panic during school or in daily situations. An anxiety for numbers can inhibit a person’s life in many ways and could even reduce the living standard they are used to. A person who is a numerophobe may feel self-conscious that they have this type of issue and it could lead to further problems, such as becoming socially reserved.

Symptoms

Symptoms of numerophobia vary according to an individual’s fear level. Symptoms usually include high levels of dread, anxiety, and other symptoms of panic like rapid breathing, breath shortness, heartbeat irregularity, nausea, excessive sweating, dry mouth, dry mouth, incapability to express sentences or words, and shaking.

Causes

Several external events combined are what typically cause phobias, and the instances are typically traumatic. Internal susceptibilities may also cause a phobia to take place, such as genetics or hereditary traits. Most phobias that are specific can be followed back to an event that specifically triggered that phobia, often a shocking experience early in life. Brain chemistry, genetics, and heredity are all believed to contribute to phobia development.

Treatment

Physicians may prescribe medication for phobias, even in mild situations. Traditional medications such as benzodiazepines are prescribed for addressing the anxiety, and beta-blockers, as well as antidepressants, are also sometimes advised. However, medication and drugs only hide the symptoms and can only provide temporary phobia relief.

Over the short term, medication may seem to be highly effective, but it cannot cure a phobia. Temporary relief may be found, but the disorder cause may still exist. Typically, when an individual stops taking the medication, the symptoms come back at full intensity.

Medications can also cause dangerous or unwanted side effects. Anxiety medications are often highly addictive and can cause habits to form, which can make it hard to stop taking the drug after having depended on it. However, despite the dangers of medication dependency, the following medications can be prescribed to treat numerophobia.

Numerophobia Treatment: Commonly Prescribed Medications

Beta-blockers are prescribed to alleviate functioning anxiety. They counteract the adrenaline flow that increases when a person becomes anxious. Beta-blockers may not impact emotional symptoms of anxiety, but they can aid in regulating physical signs like quick heartbeat, sweating, and shaking voice or hands.

Antidepressants may also be of aid when severe sensations of fear arise. So far, three antidepressants are permitted by the FDA for treatment of phobias: Zoloft, Effexor, and Paxil.

Benzodiazepines are a more addictive medication for anxiety that act in a quick manner. They can also be sedative, which is why they are usually prescribed as a last resort.

Prevention

While many therapies exist, limited cures are available. A cure for numerophobia involves eliminating the fear in a manner that the patient feels as if they never had the fear to begin with. While every patient is different, the following prevention methods typically can be effective through dedication to therapy.

Individuals who believe that they may have some kind of phobia should begin by discussing with their physician to see if they can suggest a therapist.

Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy may be recommended for treatment, though a therapist may have additional recommendations. Exposure therapy is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy and includes placing oneself in situations with elevated levels of stress situated around the specific phobia. The primary goal is to work through the fear by replacing it with new learning.

Exposure therapy is usually successful in the long run for most patients who have phobias, however, a highly capable therapist must be involved, as they must lead the individual with the phobia through particularly intense situations.

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy refers to individual therapy sessions with a mental health professional trained to handle phobias. This method utilizes a slow desensitization to and exposure to triggers of the numerophobia. Patients will become familiar with enduring the anxiety through learning relaxation practices.

Throughout the sessions, patients are gradually exposed to stimuli. For instance, a patient may view or mentally picture numbers in the first few sessions and the exposure would increase from there.

The mental health professional may ask a patient to talk through what they are experiencing. If a patient begins to feel dizziness when the phobia occurs, they may believe they are unsafe and may be alarmed. The therapist can aid in substituting the dangerous thought patterns with a realistic scenario, like: “It is only a temporary feeling of being dizzy and everything will be fine”.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Certain patients may be given the option to take cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). It can include relaxation exercises or deep breathing routines to aid in fear reduction. This type of therapy includes exercises that change the incorrect thinking patterns that may have developed and attempts to alter the behavior that occurs because of these thinking patterns.

With CBT, visible improvement may take place within 10 to 20 weeks if patients are cautious to abide by the recommended treatment plan, and significant improvement can take place within a single year.

Behavioral therapies are effective because they gradually desensitize the patient, but desensitization can be viewed as morally wrong. The incorrect thought patterns arise after the fear has been triggered, which is the problem – not simply detecting the numbers. Tolerating the anxiety is one way to address the phobia, but the end goal should always be to eliminate the anxiety for optimal health and wellbeing.

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Last Reviewed:
June 22, 2018
Last Updated:
June 21, 2018