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Helminthophobia, scoleciphobia or vermiphobia is the fear of worms, especially parasitic worms. The sight of a worm, or anything that looks like a worm, may cause someone with this phobia to have extreme anxiety or even panic attacks.

Classification of disease[edit]

According to the DSM-IV TR, scoleciphobia is a disorder that would be classified as a specific phobia of the animal type.[1] This particular subtype of Specific Phobias generally has a childhood onset and persists through adulthood.[1][2][3][4] Specific Phobia has a prevalence rate of 5.1 to 12.5% according to the National Institute of Mental Health.[2][5]


Individuals with this disorder typically recognize that their fear is excessive and/or unreasonable.[1][4][5] However, in spite of this, one may lead a restricted lifestyle and find the fear debilitating.[1][5] Those with Specific Phobias have been known to go to great lengths to avoid certain activities due to the possibility of coming into contact with the feared stimuli.[1][5] This fear can range from a mild fear response in the presence of real worms to panic-like symptoms induced by a picture of worms.[1][6][3][4][5]

Possible genetic link[edit]

It appears that family members of a person diagnosed with Specific Phobia have an increased risk of developing the disorder.[1][6] Particularly, first-degree biological relatives of person with Specific Phobias, Animal type, are more likely than the general population to have animal phobias.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed., text rev. ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association. 2000. 
  2. ^ a b Boyd, J.H.; Rae, D.S.; Thompson, J.W. (1990). "Phobia: prevalence and risk factors". Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology. 25 (6): 314–323. doi:10.1007/BF00782887. PMID 2291135. 
  3. ^ a b Kessler, R.C.; Chiu, W.T.; Demler, O.; Walters, E.E. (2005). "Prevalence, severity, and comorbidity of twelve-month DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R)". Archives of General Psychiatry. 62 (6): 617–627. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.62.6.617. PMC 2847357free to read. PMID 15939839. 
  4. ^ a b c Anxiety Disorders (PDF). NIH Publication No. 09 3879. National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2009. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Waters, Richard (2003-11-01). Phobias revealed and explained. Murdoch Books. ISBN 978-1-74045-321-9. Retrieved 3 December 2010. 
  6. ^ a b Kendler, K.S.; Walters, E.E.; Truett, K.R. (1995). "A twin-family study of self-report symptoms of panic-phobia and somatization". Behavior Genetics. 25 (6): 499–515. doi:10.1007/BF02327574. PMID 8540889.