Dendrophobia is the excessive and persistent fear of trees. The word originates from Greek “dendro” meaning tree and “phobos” meaning fear, aversion or dread.
A person who suffers from dendrophobia may avoid all trees or there may be certain types of tree, i.e., redwood or oak tree, that brings out this phobia.
Phobias related to dendrophobia include:
- Hylophobia – the fear of forests
- Nyctohylophobia – the fear of dark wooded areas or of forests at night
- Xylophobia – the fear of wooden objects and/or forests
Unfortunately, there has not been a lot off research performed for this phobia as most dendrophobia sufferers do not openly discuss their fear of trees.
Symptoms of Dendrophobia
When a person suffering from dendrophobia is in a location near trees they experience various physical symptoms such as:
- Extreme anxiety
- Shortness of breath
Another noticeable symptom is the avoidance of forests or parks with trees. The sufferer may have taken down any trees growing in their yard or they may have moved house to an urban, treeless area.
An individual with a severe phobia may try to flee from a location they think may cause them physical or mental harm. This is because they think that something bad could happen while surrounded by trees. When trees are completely still, the brain can play tricks making trees appear abnormal and frightening. Quiet, isolated areas full of dense trees can act as triggers.
Causes of Dendrophobia
Most people find trees calming and peaceful but for some, the most likely cause of dendrophobia can be attributed to an emotional trauma or bad experience with trees. For example, if a tree fell on a person’s home it may trigger the phobia or if someone has seen a lot of trees falling due to a hurricane or a natural disaster. They may fear the tree may fall on their home again or cause major damage in some way. Some people have even reported that movies with scary trees have triggered the phobia when they were a child.
These are not the only causes. People who are prone to depression or anxiety may develop dendrophobia without having a traumatic experience. When a person develops dendrophobia this way it is similar to how someone could develop or have a panic attack. A person who is afflicted with panic attacks may feel anxiety or fear in certain situations but when that situation passes they feel fine again. A dendrophobic may realize they are afraid when they are near trees but normal once away from any trees.
Trees can also be quite sinister in darkness, when their branches resemble arms that reach out to the sufferer, as though to grab them: the shadows of dancing leaves and swaying branches can also cause a sense of darkness or terror.
How to Overcome Dendrophobia
Treatment depends upon the root cause of the phobia and the sufferer’s degree of fear toward trees. By taking control and getting to the heart of dendrophobia, you can, in time, make real progress.
Phobias like dendrophobia or hylophobia are often treated by putting the patient in therapy and making them recall the incident and seeing it from an adult perspective. This is often a hard task, as the original incident could have been forgotten, and hypnosis or anti-anxiety medicine may have to be used.
Medications may be given to treat severe symptoms of anxiety. However, medications can have side effects and/or withdrawal systems that may be severe. It is also important to note that medicines do not cure phobias, at best they only temporarily suppress the systems.