What People Don’t Understand About Xanthophobia
By: Patricia Oelze
Updated February 09, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Whitney White, MS. CMHC, NCC., LPC
Have you heard of xanthophobia before? If you haven't, then don't feel bad because you're not alone. There are a lot of people who have never heard of it before. If you break it down you're probably going to figure out that it's the fear of something, right? But what in the world is 'xantho' supposed to mean? It refers to the color yellow. So that means, xanthophobia is a fear of the color yellow, but what does that mean for someone that suffers from it?
The truth is there is a range of different fears out there that many people have never heard of or thought about before. Anything that exists and even things that don't exist is something that a person could be afraid of, and those fears are very real. For the person who is suffering from that fear, life because extremely difficult, because avoiding the thing that you fear can be complex. Some fears, like heights, may be easier to avoid, by staying out of tall buildings, but you can't always avoid something that you're afraid of. You spend your entire life avoiding that thing, and then one day you have to pick up your child from the 10th story of a building because they got a cut during a field trip and that's where the medical office is.
What Is Xanthophobia?
Xanthophobia is one of those types of phobias that most people don't even think about. We hear about fears of spiders, closed in places, heights and other things and think they sound reasonable enough. But fear of color seems strange to most. The truth is, it's a fear that's just as real as any other, and it can be just as debilitating as any other phobia as well. Just like with other phobias, people may experience varying degrees of their fear. Still, it can prove to be quite serious for anyone who has it.
Why It's A Problem
If you don't currently have xanthophobia or know someone that does you may not understand what the big deal is. Okay, so they don't like the color yellow. It's just a color, right? But the truth is that it's a whole lot more than just a color, and depending on the severity of the phobia that someone has, it could make it completely impossible for them to be anywhere near the color. That means it can interfere with absolutely anything and everything that they do on any given day. Fear of any color can make it difficult to go about your life but think of all the places you'll find yellow.
The color yellow is used on many school buses throughout the country. It's used on many taxis. It's used in street lights and several signs that you'll see going down the road. It's used in company logos and buildings and houses. It's used inside buildings and houses. Just about anywhere you go you could run into this color in some way, shape or form. Whether it's only a small amount or a large amount. Even if you account for all of those other things, someone could walk into the building wearing yellow and now, all the sudden you're right back where you started.
Symptoms Of Xanthophobia
The symptoms that are associated with most phobias are very similar but simply directed toward a specific situation or experience. In general, the phobia occurs because of some specific, traumatic experience that occurred. For example, a fear of the color yellow could be a bee sting, getting hit by a vehicle that was yellow or anything else that involved the color itself. Because of that one traumatic experience, the color is forever associated with that experience and each time you see it that experience comes back to you again.
For some, the phobia extends only to see the color itself. But it may be even a small amount of the color or a small flash of an image with the color. Once the color is seen, the experience comes back and the other symptoms set in. For some, the phobia is so strong that even seeing the word or hearing someone say it can cause them to have symptoms that won't go away. The severity of the phobia can be different levels, and can strongly interfere with your overall life if it's not treated quickly.
Other symptoms associated with phobias are related to what happens when you experience the thing you are frightened of. For example, extreme anxiety and a sense of dread may occur. You may also experience rapid breathing, an irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, dry mouth, nausea, shaking, sweating and other symptoms associated with panic or panic attacks. You may struggle to speak or find yourself reacting entirely uncontrollably. It's difficult to know what will happen or when it will happen and your attacks may vary from one occasion to the next. In many cases, however, as the phobia continues, it will continue to get worse as well.
What You Can Do
The first thing you can do, and the one you've probably already tried if you have this phobia, is to purge the color yellow from your life. Unfortunately, it's not that easy to do. Other people around you will still like the color, and you'll still find it in numerous places that you wouldn't expect. Not to mention you're not treating the phobia but just trying to shove it into a corner and not deal with it.
The second thing that you've probably tried is just 'getting over it.' You've probably tried listening to your friends and family that say you're silly or there's no such thing and you've tried to ignore your feelings about the color. You've tried to ignore everything that you feel when you see it or hear the word or anything else. But that's not working so well either, is it? You think you've got things all under control, and then you see it again, and you're right back to that place. It's also not helping with actual treatment for your phobia.
Some medications can be prescribed to help with some of the side effects of phobias. These medications can reduce symptoms, and they can help with things like the panic attacks and the stress. They may help you feel calmer and more prepared for whatever might come your way. It's important to note, however, that these medications are not intended to be a cure for your phobia. Rather, they are intended to help with the process of overcoming it so that, at some point, you will be able to remove the medication altogether and go on with your life without it.
The best thing that you can do is work with a professional psychiatrist to try and overcome the phobia itself. If you can learn to overcome your phobia, you're going to be a whole lot better off, and you're going to be able to live your life the way that you want. A psychiatrist is going to work with you to better understand your fear and may work you through some form of exposure therapy, introducing you to the color only in a controlled setting and in specific situations. Slowly, you'll be able to work through the fear and be able to get back to your life, the way you want it, but it will take a lot of time and effort on your part.
Finding a great therapist or psychiatrist isn't always easy, however. That's because usually you're limited by proximity, but you don't need to be. BetterHelp is a great way that you can get access to a range of different therapists and psychiatrists that don't need to be located anywhere near you. In fact, these professionals are located all across the country, but you can get in touch with them at any time, with no concern about getting to their office. That's because BetterHelp is all online.
BetterHelp is a service that connects you with mental health information and mental health professionals directly through your computer or other internet-connected device. All you have to do is connect to the site, log in and set up an appointment that works for you. Then, when the time comes, you log on and have your appointment. You can do it from anywhere you want, whether that's your own home, the office, a hotel on vacation or anywhere else. You'll be able to find someone you feel comfortable with, and talk to them in a place you're comfortable with, what could be better than that?
There's no reason that you should be limited by your phobias anymore. And there's no reason to be limited by proximity when it comes to connecting with a psychiatrist either. Instead, look for someone that you feel comfortable with, no matter where they might be located. You'll be happier with the results, and you'll have no problem getting to your meetings because they're held somewhere that you're most comfortable. Before you know it, you'll be on your path to a better, more fulfilling life.