How do I Overcome a Fear of Birds?

Jeremy Laukkonen
Jeremy Laukkonen
Two birds.
Two birds.

The fear of birds, also known as ornithophobia, is a type of specific phobia that affects people around the world. Some of the symptoms that may accompany such a phobia include shortness of breath, dizziness, or even full-blown anxiety or panic attacks. Like many specific phobias, a fear of birds may have a root cause or be entirely spontaneous. In many cases, it can be moderated to some degree, if not overcome completely, either with or without professional help or medication.

A person learning to overcome a fear of birds.
A person learning to overcome a fear of birds.

The path to overcoming a fear of birds may depend on exactly how severe the phobia is. A mild discomfort around birds may be dealt with simply by examining the emotion and forcing yourself to realize it is irrational. In such instances, it may be as simple as placing yourself in situations where contact with birds is likely, and desensitizing yourself to their presence. Certain relaxation techniques may also be useful in case symptoms begin to appear.

There are many therapeutic methods to help people deal with fear.
There are many therapeutic methods to help people deal with fear.

While facing their bird fears alone own may work for some people, for others the fear of birds is much more severe. In these cases, it might help to know that ornithophobia is a real psychological condition that may require more involved methods to treat. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) recognizes phobias like the fear of birds, and psychiatric treatment can potentially help even those suffering from the most severe cases of ornithophobia to overcome their fears.

Many phobias have been effectively treated by something known as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This process is similar to the way someone with a minor discomfort around birds might simply face this fear, though it involves a trained therapist guiding you safely through the process. CBT will typically involve gradually facing your fear of birds, while simultaneously replacing your negative feelings with positive ones. You may also be trained in various relaxation techniques to practice when you begin to feel panic setting in.

In addition to CBT and other therapeutic methods, severe cases of ornithophobia may be treated, or moderated, with medication. If the presence of a bird phobia interferes with your ability to go about daily life, a medical professional may be able to help determine if medication is the best course of action. For some people, the mere mention of birds or seeing a picture of one can be enough to set off a panic attack, and medication may be a way to move forward with their lives.

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    • Two birds.
      Two birds.
    • A person learning to overcome a fear of birds.
      A person learning to overcome a fear of birds.
    • There are many therapeutic methods to help people deal with fear.
      There are many therapeutic methods to help people deal with fear.