Lachanophobia, or the irrational fear of vegetables, is a mental illness that may cause symptoms similar to other specific phobias. It’s important to understand that lachanophobia is so much more than disliking the taste of broccoli or green beans. Those struggling with this condition may be overcome with significant amounts of anxiety when vegetables are near or even when simply thinking about them. Though uncommon, it is, in fact, a real condition.
Ironically, studies indicate that a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables can help reduce anxiety. Processed foods and excess sugar are known to worsen it. Yet, there have been recorded incidences when those enduring lachanophobia have had such horrible panic attacks when near vegetables, they required hospitalization.
Although these occurrences are atypical, panic attacks from phobias happen more often than you’d expect. Phobias, in general, affect 19 million adults in the United States, with women twice as likely to be affected as men. Unfortunately, in the case of an individual suffering from lachanophobia, they may become malnourished, which can affect their physical health. In an attempt to avoid vegetables to protect their mental health, their overall wellbeing is jeopardized. A deficiency in certain vitamins and minerals due to their fear, anxieties, and rejection of vegetables can be extremely unhealthy.
Symptoms of Lachanophobia
Besides extreme malnutrition, those with lachanophobia can experience several other symptoms such as an inability to think logically when at the grocery store or in the presence of vegetables. Avoiding vegetables, self-talk to convince themselves that vegetables are not healthy or refusing to acknowledge they exist, are all coping mechanisms for those who have a mental illness.
Overall anxiety towards vegetables and panic attacks when in their presence is among the most profound symptoms. As with any type of mental illness, there is a spectrum and not everyone experiences it in the same way.
Causes of Lachanophobia
Like so many other phobias, the cause of lachanophobia remains a mystery. However, one’s environment and genetics may play significant roles in development. For example, an individual who has a family history of mental illness, particularly anxiety disorders, is more likely to have a mental illness, too. While lachanophobia may not run in the family, the chances of having a phobia are elevated due to an increased risk of being genetically predisposed to mental illness.
Therefore, if a history of mental illness exists, then it may only take one traumatic event to trigger a full-blown case of lachanophobia. In most cases, treatment works best when the counselor understands the family history and environment of anyone suffering from lachanophobia.
There is no one specific treatment for lachanophobia that is right for everyone. Two people suffering from the same phobia, or any anxiety disorder that that matter, may require two completely different types of treatment. Options vary from person to person as needs, objectives, and goals may change depending on everyone’s unique situation.
Numerous treatment options can be mixed and matched to create the optimal solution. The following are a few that may help when used separately or in conjunction with prescribed medication.
One such treatment might be exposure therapy. This type of treatment may be extremely advantageous for an individual suffering from a phobia or irrational fear of vegetables. Exposure therapy has been known to be an effective treatment for those suffering with most phobias. Just as the name implies, the counselor or therapist will slowly, but progressively, expose the patient to their fears. The overall goal of this type of therapy is to desensitize the patient from their irrational fear. Theoretically, the more the patient faces their fear, the less it will bother them.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
DBT has been proven to be a very effective form of treatment for people struggling with emotion regulation often caused by phobias. A patient undergoing this type of treatment learns a variety of coping skills such as half-smiling. This technique works by thinking about the fear and then slightly or lightly smiling. The goal is to stop entertaining the difficult and painful emotions, and the fear they may evoke.
Often used in DBT, practicing mindfulness and meditation can be done at any time, alone or in a group setting, to help the patient focus on breathing calmly. Regularly practicing meditation has been known to help a patient cope with their phobia, de-stress, and to think clearer. Doing so helps the person suffering from lachanophobia to calm down before a panic attack strikes.
Additionally, practicing regular mindfulness may help someone with lachanophobia during a panic attack. By redirecting their attention to calming effects and various sensations of breathing, mindfulness can reduce the amount of mental anguish experienced at a moment of anxiety influx.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a psycho-social intervention often used to treat patients suffering from anxiety disorders. The aim is to improve mental health through a series of exercises that help the patient better understand why they think and behave as they do in relation to their phobia or irrational fears.
One of the best ways to cope with anxiety and stress is through exercise. It has been proven to be extremely beneficial for those who suffer from anxiety disorders such as lachanophobia. Specifically, cardiovascular exercises such as walking briskly, jogging, running, playing sports, biking, swimming, and more, can significantly help to relieve one’s stress.
Considering the high amount of stress the body is put under during physical exercise, it is easy to see why it can be helpful. Be sure to consult your primary doctor before starting a fitness routine. If you are experiencing malnourishment because of your lachanophobia, your doctor will need to ensure you are healthy enough to exercise.
It’s important to understand the symptoms and treatment options when it comes to lachanophobia, as it’s not a hopeless situation. It’s just a matter of taking that first step. Contact a medical or mental health professional to get started.
- Crisp, B. J., Warrington, B. J., Platt, B. P., Maidment, B. J., Oliver, B. M., & Trend, B. N. (2009, November 9). Woman diagnosed with fear of vegetables. The Telegraph. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/6526816/Woman-diagnosed-with-fear-of-vegetables.html
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- Health and Food Supplements Information Service. (2017, April 25). What happens if people don’t get all the vitamins and minerals they need? HSIS. https://www.hsis.org/did-you-know/what-happens-if-people-dont-get-all-the-vitamins-and-minerals-they-need/
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