WASHINGTON — Cicadas are already being spotted across the D.C. area, and the swarm could be coming any day.
A lot of people are dreading the sights and sounds, but others are having serious fears or anxiety about the trillions of bugs emerging.
“Anxiety is a normal reaction to something that is a threat,” Dr. Gwilym Roddick said.
Dr. Roddick is a psychotherapist with the Ross Center. He said people who are afraid of cicadas should not be ashamed.
“The most common phobias we see at my practice, and in general, are fear of flying, public speaking, animals, and insects,” he explained. “So, it wouldn’t be surprising for someone to come in and say they have a phobia of cicadas.”
We asked if there are things someone can do if they find themselves having a negative reaction to either the sight or the sound of swarms of cicadas.
“In that moment when someone feels distressed, they should acknowledge that they feel distressed and act in a way they would prefer to be acting – literally not based on the way they are feeling or thinking – literally as if you were an actor with a camera and someone was shooting you and you are a person who needs to walk to their car and get in it regardless of what you’re thinking or feeling. That’s what you need to do,” Dr. Roddick said.
Dr. Roddick said it is normal for people to try and neutralize anything that causes distress.
He told us it is less about logic, but instead, how people perceive what is happening at the moment.
“Don’t look for logic if you react in an anxious way in a situation. This is purely a behavioral intervention – this is something to respond to differently,” Dr. Roddick said.
He also recognized this is a once-in-a-generation experience, and it is important for parents to talk to their children before the swarm emerges.
“I would say modeling for them that this is, not something that they need to respond to. I would also validate your kids. It’s OK to be scared. It is OK to be uncomfortable,” Dr. Roddick said.
He added parents should try to gradually expose children to cicadas by educating them on what is to come.
Dr. Roddick added the worst thing people can do is to avoid going outside or doing normal activities out of fear.
He said if things become too overwhelming or crippling, it is important to be unashamed to seek professional help.