How To Overcome Arithmophobia: The Fear of Numbers

Louis Laves-Webb

August 10, 2022

Arithmophobia can be defined as a seemingly unexplainable and intense fear of numbers. Some individuals fear things like unlucky numbers like 13 or 666, while others are afraid of all numbers or mathematics as a whole. Depending on the severity of the phobia, this phobia can actually be fairly debilitating. Some individuals can have static and unrelenting anxiety that can interfere with their personal lives, educational pursuits, or professional endeavors. Those who suffer from Arithmophobia may also have a challenging time paying bills, budgeting, or managing their finances. 12.5% of people will face some sort of phobia in their lifetime. Arithmophobia is just one of the many phobias that can impact an individual's mental health. Learn about Arithmophobia in this post from Louis Laves-Webb, LCSW, LPC-S’s blog.

What is Artihmophobia?

Arithmophobia is a type of specific phobia where anxiety, avoidance, and stress present themselves in an intense fear of numbers. Some may fear only specific numbers, while others may fear all numbers. Arithmophobia has also been referred to as nomophobia. In the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Many individuals who suffer from arithmophobia may be totally aware that this is an “irrational” fear, Yet still may have a challenging time controlling their symptoms or “talking themselves out of it”.

Why Would Someone Fear Certain Numbers?

Arithmophobia regarding specific numbers can have various etiologies. Some may stem from experiences of religious faith or cultural superstitions, some may have an obsessive repetition component, while others may stem from personal traumatic events surrounding specific numbers. Some of the most common specific numbers of individuals with arithmophobia fear may include:

  • 666: Fear of the number 666 is also known as hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia. 666 is associated with western, primarily Christian cultures, where this number is referred to as “The Number of the Beast”. It’s common to see this number in horror movies as a mark of evil or the end of the world.
  • 13: Fear of the number 13, also known as triskaidekaphobia, is another example of arithmophobia that can be attributed to religions and Western culture. For example, it was said that Judas, the betrayer of Jesus Christ, was the 13th guest at the Last Supper. Additionally, the Norse god of mischief, Loki, is the 13th pantheon god. Some individuals may fear Friday the 13th, viewing this as an unlucky day. Fear of Friday the 13th is also known as paraskevidekatriaphobia.
  • 4: Fear of the number 4 is an eastern superstition, as it’s considered an unlucky number in places like Japan, Vietnam, and China. In these countries, the number 4 is a homophone for the word “death”. Within certain Asian countries, you may find that the number 4 is nowhere to be found on elevators, hotel room numbers, or even product serial numbers.

What Are The Symptoms of Arithmophobia?

The primary telltale symptom of arithmophobia is intense anxiety upon encountering numbers, whether it be a specific number or any numbers. Therefore, the symptoms of arithmophobia are in line with those of anxiety, including:

  • Lightheadedness and dizziness
  • Palpitations of the heart
  • Feeling short of breath
  • Upset stomach and indigestion
  • Shaking and trembling
  • Rumination
  • Fear that “something” bad is going to happen
  • Inability to feel calm or serene
  • How To Overcome Arithmophobia

There are a few treatment options for arithmophobia that have proven to be effective. Here at Louis Laves-Webb, LCSW, LPC-S these are some of the modalities that research and clinical experience have demonstrated to be effective:

  • Exposure Therapy: Exposure therapy is typically where we start when it comes to treating those with arithmophobia. Those that experience exposure therapy notice that their symptoms decrease, and sometimes quite rapidly. Exposure therapy of any kind involves interacting with a specific fear. In cases of arithmophobia, it may be imagining doing tasks involving that number in real life, and then working your way up to actually performing these tasks.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT examines more in-depth your thoughts and cognitions and intervenes at the thinking level to help reframe or consider other less anxiety-inducing beliefs. This can involve some exploration of feelings, reduction in catastrophic thinking, and gentle challenges around current beliefs. Speaking with a therapist can assist you with identifying which of your thoughts may be too intrusive, unhelpful, or too black & white. CBT therapy can help you to think through situations a bit more, allows for some alternative ways of thinking, and introduces skills that you can use on your own.
  • Psychodynamic Therapy psychodynamic therapy emphasizes your emotional experience and seeks to understand what may be occurring beneath the surface or unconsciously for you. It allows for a deeper and more enriching experience of yourself and offers the opportunity to help heal past experiences or traumatic encounters that may be contributing to your Arithmophobia fears.

There are also other concordat methods of treatment for arithmophobia, which can include hypnotherapy and medications. At Louis Laves-Webb, LCSW, LPC-S, we want to understand your specific situation and challenges. We will discuss in detail your specific symptoms of arithmophobia and work with you to cultivate an approach to assist you based on your needs and comfort level.

Louis Laves-Webb, LCSW, LPC - S offers tangible Assistance For Overcoming Arithmophobia

At Louis Laves-Webb,LCSW, LPC-S & Associates we’ve helped many individuals with a spectrum of phobias and phobic reactions, including Arithmophobia and a number of uncommon phobias. If you need assistance in overcoming arithmophobia, please fill out our contact form or simply call us.

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