One of the greatest adventures that travelers and tourists look forward to when visiting Dubai is the desert safari. There is something about the sand, the heat and the extensive view of dry land that appeals to travelers. Almost every traveler must experience the desert safari besides the amazing views of the city.

However, while some may find the desert safari interesting there are some people who cannot stand it because of the vast dry land. The reason is that they are afraid of dry land. The extreme fear of dryness or dry land is among the many types of phobias.

Definition of Xerophobia

Xero and phobia originally Greek words which mean dry and fear respectively. Therefore, Xerophobia is the fear of dryness, dry land and anything that can be defined as dry. People with Xerophobia don’t go on vacations in dry and desert areas because they are afraid of either desert animals or dying of thirst.

Causes of Xerophobia

Most if not all types of phobias are a result of past traumatic events coupled with unexplainable genetic reasons and environmental factors. For example, a person in a family with a history of mental illness is highly likely to develop Xerophobia especially when they have a traumatic experience. The combination of these factors can result in a full-blown irrational fear of dryness.

Traumatic events that can cause Xerophobia may include a person being trapped in a dry area or while on vacation in an area that had no water and they suffered from dehydration. From that experience, this person will be afraid of a dry area because they don’t want to go through the pain of dehydration that almost caused them to die.

It could also be that they were bitten by one of the animals predominate in the desert such as scorpions and snakes. Lastly, there are those who found themselves lost in such places because they are no landmark to show how far they have gone.

Since dry lands especially desert can be very vast, people often get lost for hours and the supplies of water and food begin to run out. The fear of not being found on time and dying from thirst can lead one to develop Xerophobia. Such experiences will leave the scared for a long time.

In most movies and cinematic productions like Mad Max Fury Road, the desert is associated with danger. It is out of the reach of people and anything can happen there. Besides, there is no water, there are also dangerous crawling animals.

It these cinematic depictions, people hardly make it out of the desert. They die of either of two things, thirst or poisonous animals. If a person watches these movies over time, they are more likely to develop Xerophobia. They may not have been in a dry place themselves or even experienced a traumatic event but seeing how dangerous the desert can be is enough for them to be scared.

Symptoms of Xerophobia

The symptoms of Xerophobia have different degrees of severity depending on a person’s level of fear. Nevertheless, people with Xerophobia have the same symptoms when they think about or find themselves in dry places. These include:

  • Anxiety which when severe can lead to an anxiety or panic attack
  • Shortness of breath
  • Breathlessness
  • Rapid breathing
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Excessive sweating
  • Dryness of mouth and throat
  • Shaking and trembling
  • Inability to express oneself coherently or correctly articulate words
  • Nausea

Treatment of Xerophobia

Xerophobia can be treated through various approaches. One of the common and effective treatments used for Xerophobia is exposure therapy. In this form of therapy, a patient is gradually and progressively exposed to their fear of dryness for a period of time.

At first, it could be through photos of the desert of dry land and then progressively, the patient is exposed to an actual dry area. Exposure treatment can cause an influx of unwanted anxiety in the beginning stages. However, it helps a patient to become desensitized to their fear throughout the period of treatment.

The other form of treatment is counseling. Counseling helps a patient to deal with past trauma that triggered Xerophobia in the first place. This could be an event that placed the patient’s life in danger and which the patient has not gotten over yet. During counseling sessions, patients can talk about such experiences and what impact they had on their life.

It is during these sessions that they can finally deal with the past in order to move on. Another form of treatment that uses the same approach is hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy helps to uncover any past trauma that a patient may even not know about that may have triggered Xerophobia.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a form of treatment that can be pursued. The aim of this form of treatment to debunk any myths that a patient may have concerning dryness and dry places. A patient may not have suffered from the traumatic event but they may have picked these myths from movies or other people. This form of therapy helps them to replace the negative views concerning dryness with more positive and helpful thoughts.

Lastly, medication can at times be prescribed to alleviate the symptoms of Xerophobia especially when they become severe. For example, anti-depressants can be prescribed for severe cases of anxiety. However, medications have side effects and can lead to addiction. Furthermore, they are only a placebo because they don’t deal with the root cause of the fear of dryness.

How to overcome Xerophobia?

In order to overcome Xerophobia, you must first identify your reasons. What is your motivation to overcome fear? Is it to go on holiday or the like? Having a clear goal in mind will keep you motivated throughout the journey to overcome Xerophobia.

The other thing is that you need to seek treatment. Treatment is important so that you can get to know what triggered your fear in the first place.

Lastly, have a support system of family and friends to give you moral support through your journey to ‘recovery’. It will be unfair for you to miss vacation opportunities because of Xerophobia. The good news is that with time and effort, you can overcome.