Katsaridaphobia (Phobia of Cockroaches): Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Katsaridaphobia (Phobia of Cockroaches): Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Katsaridaphobia is an unwarranted irrational and persistent fear that can be debilitating.

Fear of cockroaches can be caused by several factors: their anatomy, ability to spread disease, the fact that they eat rotting substances, or that some of them can fly.

For many people this phobia comes from a form of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), which causes constant fear that a cockroach could appear at any moment.

This condition and the coping methods the afflicted use can impact their lives. They may use preventative measures such as avoiding basements and dark places, not staying in summer/temporary accommodation, or manias such as making sure the sheets and curtains don’t touch the floor.

“Any movement on the floor makes me shiver, sometimes when I go to bed every noise sounds like a cockroach. I get up and I spend all night awake thinking that at any moment one of them could get into my sheets. The problem is that when I’m sure there’s one in my room, my body won’t and I can’t get up and kill it”.

This quote shows us what it’s like to suffer from this phobia. In this article we will consider the name of this phobia, we will define the symptoms and their probable causes and we will develop all of the possible treatments and therapies. If you read to the end you will find a list of interesting facts about these bothersome insects.


Many people ask about the technical name that is given to the fear of cockroaches. The best term for this is the Anglo-Saxon word katsaridaphobia.
Another useful term is entomophobia however this covers a general fear of all insects, whether it be spiders and scorpions (arachnophobia), moths and butterflies (mottephobia), or bees (apiphobia).

In turn, entomophobia is part of another group of phobias which covers all animals: zoophobia. This covers everything from fear of dogs (cynophobia) to fear of frogs (bufonophobia), among others.



As with other phobias, depending on how badly affected the sufferer is, the symptoms may be more or less severe. It is important to take into account the individual’s mental state and other such characteristics.

Some of the most common symptoms are:

  • nausea and dizziness
  • shivering
  • difficulty breathing
  • high heart rate
  • drowning or strangling sensation
  • chest pains
  • numbness
  • excessive sweating
  • difficulty thinking or speaking clearly
  • inability to distinguish between the real and unreal
  • crying and shouting
  • panic attacks
  • lack of control
  • paralysis, temporary loss of movement
  • fear
  • anxiety

In this video we can see some of the symptoms that this girl experiences upon becoming aware that there is a cockroach in her house.

As we mentioned earlier, sometimes the sufferer develops OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). This becomes clear when they become so desperate they use all available means to make sure that no cockroach enters the vicinity. For this they spray insecticides or set up insect traps in their house, they sweep and clean carpets, rugs, electrical appliances, bathrooms, etc.


The reasons to be afraid of cockroaches depend on the individual. The condition may appear at any moment, so nobody is completely free of this phobia.

As with most phobias, fear of cockroaches can appear after a traumatic episode and can be lifelong.

However, the majority of these events occur during childhood and they rarely occur in adult life.

The evolutionary cause is also often discussed by the scientific community. Our prehistoric ancestors were programmed to stay alert in case they were threatened by predators or enemies who would steal from them while they slept in their caves – the ideal place for cockroaches who thrive in warm, dark places.

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Familial conditioning is a concept which divides scientists. While some think that it’s linked to genetics and that if you have family members with a phobia of cockroaches or other insects you will be more likely to develop such a phobia, others think that it is simply a conditioned response to what you see at home.


The treatment of the fear of cockroaches is often successful. Psychology has played an important role in this and treatment methods are becoming more and more successful.

The first step is to see a psychologist, who will determine if your fear of cockroaches is a phobia or just a repulsion. If you do suffer from a psychological disorder it is likely you will be treated with some of the methods below.

Graduated exposure therapy

In exposure therapy (also known as systematic desensitization) the patient is gradually exposed to their fear. This includes looking at photos of cockroaches, looking at them from a distance, touching a dead cockroach, being alone with one, touching a live one, etc. It is the most common way of overcoming phobias in cases of entomophobia and zoophobia.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

CBT involves the restructuring of negative thoughts about the object of fear. Thanks to techniques such as biofeedback and certain forms of relaxation, thoughts and behaviours towards cockroaches will gradually be changed, getting rid of any associations of fear.

Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP)

NLP aims to find the root of the fear. As mentioned earlier, the reasons can be very different, but if we examine the origin of the trauma, we can change the irrational fear by using relaxation and a calm situation.


For this we use psychotherapy, personal development and communication that modifies behaviours or the abilities of the individual.

Virtual reality therapy

Virtual reality has become more relevant recently in our society, thanks to the speed at which it is being developed. This is not just for reasons of leisure: it can also be used to treat phobias and other mental illnesses.

In 2009 the Psychology and Technology Laboratory at the University Jaume I developed a system for the treatment of arachnophobia and katsaridaphobia through the use of virtual reality.

This is similar to exposure therapy where the patient gradually confronts their fear with the help of a therapist, however they often feel safer as they know that it’s virtual.


Medication is only used in extreme cases, which are rare. If the patient suffers from anxiety, long or severe panic attacks or reacts in a way that may damage their health, antidepressants (SRRIs), anxiolytics (tranquilisers) or anticonvulsants may be used. These can help calm states of panic and produce a calm sensation, but there are many possible side effects from these medications.


Fear of cockroaches is not a whim or a whim — it’s a disease

Synonyms for whim

  • bee,
  • caprice,
  • crank,
  • fancy,
  • freak,
  • humor,
  • kink,
  • maggot,
  • megrim,
  • notion,
  • vagary,
  • vagrancy,
  • whimsy
  • ( also whimsey )

Choose the Right Synonym for whim

caprice, whim, vagary, crotchet mean an irrational or unpredictable idea or desire. caprice stresses lack of apparent motivation and suggests willfulness. by sheer caprice she quit her job whim implies a fantastic, capricious turn of mind or inclination. an odd antique that was bought on a whim vagary stresses the erratic, irresponsible character of the notion or desire. he had been prone to strange vagaries crotchet implies an eccentric opinion or preference. a serious scientist equally known for his bizarre crotchets

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