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Fear of numbers (arithmophobia or numerophobia): causes, symptoms and treatment

Fear of numbers (arithmophobia or numerophobia): causes, symptoms and treatment

October 23, 2020

The world of psychopathologies is a complex world, in which there are many disorders. One of the most frequent are phobias, which are characterized because the person experiencing them feels an extreme and persistent irrational fear, as well as great anxiety and discomfort before a stimulus (situation, animal and object).

Phobias are part of the group of anxiety disorders, and can be experienced at any age. In this article we'll talk about arithmophobia or numerophobia, the irrational fear of numbers , as well as the way in which it affects the day to day.

  • Related article: "Types of phobias: exploring the disorders of fear"

What is arithmophobia

Arithmophobia is an irrational fear of numbers, mathematics or arithmetic . It also receives the name of numerofobia and causes great discomfort to the person who suffers it, who tends to avoid the feared stimulus at all costs.


This alteration can seriously affect the life of the individual with this disorder, since the numbers and the mathematical calculations are present in the day to day of the people . Seeing the numbers written on a blackboard or calculating the expenses of the purchase can be situations that cause great discomfort to the phobic one and that tends to avoid.

Phobias are quite common anxiety disorders , and there are different types: social phobias, agoraphobia and specific phobias. The latter are characterized because the phobic stimulus is a concrete object, situation or animal, which provokes the irrational and disproportionate reaction of fear. Among these phobias we can find aerophobia or fear of flying, arachnophobia or fear of spiders or arithmophobia or fear of numbers.


  • Maybe you're interested: "Types of Anxiety Disorders and their characteristics"

Causes of phobias

Although one can speak of a phobic person, phobias are learned. They often appear after a traumatic experience that, in the case of arithmophobia, the person associates the numbers. This occurs because of a type of associative learning called classical conditioning.

Classical conditioning is an apprenticeship in which the individual associates an unconditioned stimulus (traumatic event) that elicits an unconditioned response (fear response) to an originally neutral stimulus but is later known as a conditioned stimulus (the numbers), which ends up provoking the unconditioned response, now called conditioned response.

Other causes of this phobia

This phobia can also appear for other reasons. For example, that the person had a bad experience with mathematics and, in the face of fear and insecurity to do wrong calculations, manifest the symptoms .


Now, it does not necessarily have to be the phobic one that experiences the traumatic event in his own skin, but the observation of the traumatic event in another person, what would be known as vicar conditioning, can cause the development of this pathology.

On the other hand, several experts in phobias claim that phobias have a biological component, because it is common to acquire irrational fears. Fear is a very adaptive and useful emotion , which has served the human species to survive over the centuries. The emotion of fear is originated by primitive associations, in the limbic system, and not by cognitive associations in the neocortex. This explains why a person even knowing that he suffers from a phobia is unable to overcome it simply with reason.

Symptoms of phobia of numbers

Regardless of the type of phobia, the symptoms are usually common. Being an anxiety disorder, This anxiety is usually the main symptom next to fear, but there are other . These symptoms are classified into three types: cognitive, behavioral and physical.

Among the cognitive symptoms we can highlight fear, anguish, confusion or catastrophic thoughts. The avoidance of the feared stimulus is a behavioral symptom that present the phobic. Headaches, hyperventilation, nausea and upset stomach are physical symptoms experienced by people with fear of numbers.

Treatment of numerophobia

Phobias are very common disorders, and there is a lot of scientific evidence regarding effective treatment. According to the results of these studies, cognitive behavioral therapy seems to be the most effective type of psychotherapy .

In this form of therapy, different techniques are included, of which relaxation techniques and exposure techniques are effective for the treatment of phobias.A technique that includes both and that provides good results to overcome phobic disorders is systematic desensitization.

The objective of systematic desensitization is to expose the patient to the phobic stimulus in a gradual manner . Before, but the patient must learn a series of coping strategies that help reduce anxious symptoms when faced with phobic stimuli.

In addition to cognitive-behavioral techniques, other types of psychotherapy such as cognitive therapy based on Mindfulness and acceptance and commitment therapy They have proven to be very effective. Both forms of psychotherapy are considered third-generation therapy, which place emphasis on the patient's functional context and acceptance.

  • Related article: "Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): principles and characteristics"

Top 10 Strangest Real Phobias People Actually Have (October 2020).


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