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. 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.
Individuals who have a fear of worms may feel as if warm weather is an enemy. Rain can send them into a panic. So much so that some will insist on moving to a dry climate to avoid an encounter with worms. These individuals may also take extreme precautions if they must use a public restroom. Other symptoms include, panic attacks, air hunger/hyperventilation, elevated heart rate, sweating, nausea, the urge to scream or cry, and an incredible sense of dread.
Treatment may include tapping therapy or emotional freedom technique with clients – this is a is a standardized procedure where the patient taps on various key body energy points while visualizing a negative situation, replacing negative thoughts with positive counter-thoughts. This approach has been used as both a standalone and adjudicative treatment for anxiety.
There are multiple other therapies available including hypnosis and peer counseling. Some doctors or therapists suggest simply immersing the patient in with what they fear most. While this works in some cases it can serve to enhance the fear in others.