Arithmophobia: Fear of Numbers

  • Time to read: 7 min.

As an affiliate, we earn from qualifying purchases. We get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. Also, this site cannot and does not contain medical/health advice. The medical/health information is provided for general informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. See our disclaimers page for more information.

Do you ever get a cold sweat when someone asks you to do basic math in your head? Do you panic when faced with equations on a whiteboard or worksheet? If so, then you may be suffering from arithmophobia – the fear of numbers.

Arithmophobia is more common than many people realize and can have serious implications for those who struggle with it. It’s not just about feeling nervous around math; it’s an irrational fear that can lead to avoidance of situations where one might need to use mathematics. This could mean missing out on important educational opportunities or avoiding job interviews where numerical skills are required.

Fortunately, there are ways to overcome arithmophobia if you know what steps to take. In this article, we’ll explore some of the causes and symptoms of arithmophobia as well as how to manage and eventually conquer your fear of numbers.

What is Arithmophobia & What Causes It?

Arithmophobia, also known as “math anxiety,” is a fear of mathematics and the related calculations. This phobia can range from mild to severe and can affect children and adults alike. People with arithmophobia often feel overwhelmed by math tasks, resulting in negative thoughts, intense stress, and sometimes a desire to avoid math altogether. 

Causes of Arithmophobia

The causes of arithmophobia vary from person to person, but some of the most common triggers include having a negative experience with math in school or feeling like they are not capable of understanding it.

Other contributing factors include lacking confidence in mental abilities, believing that mathematics is unimportant or irrelevant, or feeling uncomfortable or stressed by the idea of numbers and calculations. For example, some people may find mathematical equations difficult to understand due to their complexity, which can lead to anxiety about making mistakes and feeling embarrassed for not being able to keep up with class discussions. 

For young students who may already struggle with low self-esteem or lack of confidence in their academic abilities, this fear of mathematics may be more pronounced than for their peers. As children progress through their schooling, they face increasingly complex math problems that may have been learned incorrectly or not at all in earlier years. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy that can feed into feelings of anxiety if these issues are not addressed properly. 

In addition to individual experience, culture and environment play a role in forming positive or negative opinions about mathematics. A school climate that emphasizes competition rather than collaboration can contribute to pre-existing fears as students feel pressure to perform better than others without an emphasis on learning strategies and problem-solving approaches.

Similarly, societal norms attaching certain stereotypes – such as males being “better” at mathematics than females – can contribute to a student’s own perception that they are less capable than their peers and lead them towards arithmophobia. 

Arithmophobia affects both adults and children alike but its impact on education is especially significant because it has the potential to prevent students from reaching their full potential in math courses as well as other areas such as science where mathematical literacy is essential for success.

Therefore it is important for teachers and parents alike to be mindful when identifying signs of arithmophobia so that appropriate strategies for addressing the issue can be implemented before it becomes too problematic for those affected by it.

How to Overcome Your Fear of Numbers

The first step in overcoming any fear is to understand what it is, and arithmophobia is no exception. In this case, it’s important to understand that math isn’t inherently scary; rather it’s the anxiety associated with doing math that causes the fear. This anxiety may stem from past experiences or negative messages about one’s own ability to do math; understanding what the source of your anxiety is can help you work through it.

Furthermore, building confidence in one’s math ability can go a long way toward helping overcome arithmophobia. Start by breaking down large mathematical tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces. Also try setting achievable goals for yourself and challenge yourself to reach those goals; reward yourself for doing so and celebrate your successes both big and small! 

It may also be helpful to practice relaxation techniques when feeling overwhelmed such as deep breathing exercises or visualization. Find something soothing – whether music or perhaps a mantra – and keep it running through your mind as you work on mathematical problems; this will help keep you calm and focused on the task at hand instead of letting the fear consume you.

Additionally, seeking out social support from family, friends, teachers or counselors can provide an invaluable lifeline during tough times, helping to build self-confidence in tackling difficult tasks such as mathematics. 

Finally, focusing on the “why” behind solving mathematical problems instead of just the “what” can help alleviate some of the anxiety around them. Learning how topics such as algebra or geometry are used in everyday life – whether figuring out tips at restaurants or calculating mortgage payments – can make mathematics feel less daunting than it otherwise would be if just focusing on memorizing formulas with no real-world application. 

Treatments or Therapies for Arithmophobia

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is often the first line of treatment for this anxiety disorder. This type of therapy helps individuals recognize thought patterns that may be contributing to their fears and teaches them how to replace them with more positive, productive thoughts.

Through this combination of cognitive restructuring and behavioral modification, individuals learn how to confront their anxieties rather than avoiding or ignoring them. CBT also works on changing the individual’s behaviors by teaching new coping strategies such as relaxation techniques, mindfulness meditation, and/or deep breathing exercises. 

Exposure-based therapy is another method used in the treatment of arithmophobia. This involves gradually exposing the individual to increasingly difficult math problems until they reach a point where they can handle difficult equations without feeling overwhelmed by fear or anxiety. The goal is to create an environment where the individual ultimately has control over their fear by being able to recognize it but still being able to work through it effectively.

Medication is sometimes prescribed in addition to these therapies depending on the severity of the individual’s symptoms as well as any underlying mental health conditions they may have that could be exacerbating their arithmophobia.

Commonly prescribed medications include antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, mood stabilizers, or antipsychotics which can all help reduce stress levels associated with math-related tasks. Before taking any medication for arithmophobia however it is important to speak with a qualified medical professional about potential side effects. 

Finally, there are other lifestyle changes individuals can make outside of traditional therapies which may help alleviate symptoms related to arithmophobia. Finding an activity you enjoy doing that also incorporates mathematics such as cooking or playing video games can help you practice problem solving without feeling overwhelmed or anxious about them.

Additionally, joining support groups gives individuals a safe space where they can talk openly about their fears with others who understand what they are going through and offer advice on effective coping mechanisms for managing fear when it arises during math-related activities.

Recent Studies or Breakthroughs in Treating Arithmophobia

Research studies have been conducted to better understand this condition and its effects on individuals.

One study found that arithmophobia can lead to decreased academic performance in mathematics-related subjects. The study surveyed students with varying levels of math anxiety and found that those with higher levels of arithmophobia had lower grades in math classes than those with lower levels of math anxiety. This suggests that arithmophobia can have a negative impact on academic performance in mathematics-related subjects.

Another study looked at the relationship between arithmophobia and mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. The results showed that individuals with higher levels of arithmophobia were more likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety than those with lower levels of math anxiety. This indicates that arithmophobia may be linked to mental health issues, which could have implications for treatment options for individuals suffering from this condition.

Finally, a third study examined the effects of different types of interventions on arithmophobia. The results showed that cognitive behavioral therapy was the most effective intervention for reducing symptoms associated with arithmophobia. This suggests that cognitive behavioral therapy may be an effective treatment option for individuals suffering from this condition.

Overall, research studies suggest that arithmophobia can have a negative impact on academic performance, mental health issues, and treatment options for individuals suffering from this condition.


Arithmophobia is a real and valid condition that can have serious consequences for individuals who suffer from it. Thankfully, there are many effective treatments available for arithmophobia including cognitive-behavioral therapy, medications, lifestyle changes, and support groups.

With the right treatment plan, individuals with arithmophobia can learn to manage their fear and live a more fulfilling life. It is important to remember that the fear of numbers is treatable and with the right support, individuals can overcome this condition and lead a happy and successful life.

FAQ – Arithmophobia: Fear of Numbers

Is fear of numbers called arithmophobia?

Yes, arithmophobia is the fear of numbers. Individuals with arithmophobia may experience anxiety and panic when faced with numerical tasks such as math equations, counting objects, or dealing with statistics.

How common is the fear of numbers?

Arithmophobia is a relatively common fear. While exact prevalence statistics are not available, research studies suggest that it affects up to 10% of the population.

Why do numbers give me anxiety?

It is not uncommon for individuals to experience anxiety when faced with numerical tasks. This could be due to a fear of failure or feeling overwhelmed by the task at hand. Additionally, negative experiences with math in the past can also contribute to an individual’s fear of numbers.

How do I overcome my arithmophobia?

There are a variety of ways to manage arithmophobia and reduce its effects on daily life. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, medications, lifestyle changes, and support groups are all potential treatment options for individuals with arithmophobia. It is important to work with a mental health professional to develop a treatment plan that works best for your needs.