General, Research, Technology

Scientists have found a way to get rid of arachnophobia in just a couple of minutes

Are you afraid of spiders? Not? But according to statistics, in the US alone, more than 50% of women and about 10% of men are afraid of spiders. Many celebrities suffer from arachnophobia, for example, Johnny Depp, Justin Timberlake, Andre Agassi and many other media personalities. But soon everything can change, because researchers from the Netherlands have found an unusual way by which such people can be cured of their phobia in just a couple of minutes.

Typically used to treat arachnophobiabehavioral therapy. The patient is literally forced to face his fears face to face. He must communicate directly with the spider, gradually approaching him, up to touch. Another common method of treatment is the use of various computer programs and video games (including those created for virtual reality), in which a person contacts the source of his phobia. But all these methods do not guarantee a 100% result, therefore, scientists did not give up hope to find a more effective treatment.

The answer came from the University of Amsterdam, wherea group of scientists led by Marieke Seter have developed a completely new approach to treating arachnophobia. They used traditional confrontational therapy with propranolol. It turned out that only one such short session is able to effectively relieve the patient of his phobia for a period of up to one year (no studies have been conducted longer). 45 volunteers suffering from arachnophobia acted as experimental subjects. The first control group was offered to take the medicine and spend a couple of minutes in the company of the tarantula, and the second group received a placebo instead of the medicine.

Propranolol is a non-selectivebeta-blocker, which reduces the frequency and strength of heart contractions, myocardial contractility, lowers the pressure and tone of the bronchi. Further studies showed that the first group of subjects subsequently experienced a much lesser fear of spiders than the second, whose reaction to the phobia did not change. Scientists explain this by the fact that the introduction of the drug in the process of activating the negative associations caused by the meeting with the spider led to the modification of bad memories. Simply put, patients simply forgot about their negative emotions associated with arachnophobia.

Scientists believe that this method is quite the case of a wide range of phobias. So in the future, the introduction of such therapy for the treatment of claustrophobia (fear of confined spaces), aquaphobia (fear of swimming), eichmophobia (fear of sharp objects), and other common irrational fears is not ruled out.