Phobias2018-02-21T23:15:52+00:00

Phobias

Phobias

Phobias

Everyone feels anxious or uneasy from time to time. Your first day on a new job, planning for a long trip, going to the dentist….your palms sweat, you feel shaky, your heart pounds. Some anxiety helps to keep you focused on the job at hand. However, when your anxiety is so serious that it interferes with your work, leads you to avoid certain situations or keeps you from enjoying life, you may be suffering from a form of the most common type of mental disorder, an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders are not just a case of “nerves.” You can’t overcome an anxiety disorder just through willpower, nor can the symptoms be ignored or wished away. These disorders cause you to feel anxious most of the time, making some everyday situations so uncomfortable that you may avoid them entirely. Or, you may experience occasional instances of anxiety that are so terrifying and intense that you may be immobilized with fear.

Although these conditions can be very frightening and disabling, they are also very treatable. It is important to recognize the symptoms and seek help.

Treatment for Phobias:

The best treatment for specific phobias is a form of psychotherapy called exposure therapy. Sometimes your doctor may also recommend other therapies or medication. Understanding the cause of a phobia is actually less important than focusing on how to treat the avoidance behavior that has developed over time.

The goal of treatment is to improve quality of life so that you’re no longer limited by your phobias. As you learn how to better manage and relate to your reactions, thoughts and feelings, you’ll find that your anxiety and fear are reduced and no longer in control of your life. Treatment is usually directed at one specific phobia at a time.

Psychotherapy

Talking with a mental health professional can help you manage your specific phobia. Exposure therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy are the most effective treatments.Exposure therapy focuses on changing your response to the object or situation that you fear. Gradual, repeated exposure to the source of your specific phobia and the related thoughts, feelings and sensations may help you learn to manage your anxiety. For example, if you’re afraid of elevators, your therapy may progress from simply thinking about getting into an elevator, to looking at pictures of elevators, to going near an elevator, to stepping into an elevator. Next, you may take a one-floor ride, then ride several floors, and then ride in a crowded elevator.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) involves exposure combined with other techniques to learn ways to view and cope with the feared object or situation differently. You learn alternative beliefs about your fears and bodily sensations and the impact they’ve had on your life. CBT emphasizes learning to develop a sense of mastery and confidence with your thoughts and feelings rather than feeling overwhelmed by them.

Types of Phobias:

There are three main groups of phobias which include:

  • Specific (simple) phobias, which are the most common and focus on specific objects
  • Social phobia, which causes extreme anxiety in social or public situations, and
  • Agoraphobia, which is the fear of being alone in public places from which there is no easy escape

Specific Or Simple Phobias produce intense fear of a particular object or situation that is, in fact, relatively safe. People who suffer from specific phobias are aware that their fear is irrational, but the thought of facing the object or situation often brings on a panic attack or severe anxiety.

Specific phobias may include persistent fear of dogs, insects, or snakes; driving a car; heights; tunnels or bridges; thunderstorms; and/or flying. No one knows what causes them, though they seem to run in families and are slightly more prevalent in women. Specific phobias usually begin in adolescence or adulthood. They start suddenly and tend to be more persistent than childhood phobias. When children have specific phobias–for example, a fear of animals–those fears usually disappear over time, though they may continue into adulthood. No one knows why they persist in some people and disappear in others.

Social Phobia can produce fear of being humiliated or embarrassed in front of other people. This problem may also be related to feelings of inferiority and low self-esteem, and can drive a person to drop out of school, avoid making friends, and remain unemployed.

Agoraphobia causes people to suffer anxiety about being in places or situations from which it might be difficult or embarrassing to escape–such as being in a room full of people or in an elevator. In some cases, panic attacks can become so debilitating that the person may develop agoraphobia because they fear another panic attack. In extreme cases, a person with agoraphobia may be afraid to leave their house.

Although this disorder is sometimes thought to be shyness, it is not the same thing. Shy people do not experience extreme anxiety in social situations, nor do they necessarily avoid them. In contrast, people with social phobia can be at ease with people most of the time, except in particular situations. Often social phobia is accompanied by depression or substance abuse.

People suffering from social phobia may:

  • View small mistakes as more exaggerated than they really are
  • Find blushing as painfully embarrassing
  • Feel that all eyes are on them
  • Fear speaking in public, dating, or talking with persons in authority
  • Fear using public restrooms or eating out
  • fear talking on the phone or writing in front of others

Medications

Generally psychotherapy using exposure therapy is successful in treating specific phobias. However, sometimes medications can help reduce the anxiety and panic symptoms you experience from thinking about or being exposed to the object or situation you fear.

Medications may be used during initial treatment or for short-term use in specific, infrequently encountered situations, such as flying on an airplane, public speaking or going through an MRI procedure.

  • Beta blockers. These drugs block the stimulating effects of adrenaline, such as increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, pounding heart, and shaking voice and limbs that are caused by anxiety.
  • Sedatives. Medications called benzodiazepines help you relax by reducing the amount of anxiety you feel. Sedatives are used with caution because they can be addictive and should be avoided if you have a history of alcohol or drug dependence.

Symptoms of Phobias:

The best treatment for specific phobias is a form of psychotherapy called exposure therapy. Sometimes your doctor may also recommend other therapies or medication. Understanding the cause of a phobia is actually less important than focusing on how to treat the avoidance behavior that has developed over time.

The goal of treatment is to improve quality of life so that you’re no longer limited by your phobias. As you learn how to better manage and relate to your reactions, thoughts and feelings, you’ll find that your anxiety and fear are reduced and no longer in control of your life. Treatment is usually directed at one specific phobia at a time.

Psychotherapy

Talking with a mental health professional can help you manage your specific phobia. Exposure therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy are the most effective treatments.Exposure therapy focuses on changing your response to the object or situation that you fear. Gradual, repeated exposure to the source of your specific phobia and the related thoughts, feelings and sensations may help you learn to manage your anxiety. For example, if you’re afraid of elevators, your therapy may progress from simply thinking about getting into an elevator, to looking at pictures of elevators, to going near an elevator, to stepping into an elevator. Next, you may take a one-floor ride, then ride several floors, and then ride in a crowded elevator.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) involves exposure combined with other techniques to learn ways to view and cope with the feared object or situation differently. You learn alternative beliefs about your fears and bodily sensations and the impact they’ve had on your life. CBT emphasizes learning to develop a sense of mastery and confidence with your thoughts and feelings rather than feeling overwhelmed by them.

Types of Phobias:

There are three main groups of phobias which include:

  • Specific (simple) phobias, which are the most common and focus on specific objects
  • Social phobia, which causes extreme anxiety in social or public situations, and
  • Agoraphobia, which is the fear of being alone in public places from which there is no easy escape

Specific Or Simple Phobias produce intense fear of a particular object or situation that is, in fact, relatively safe. People who suffer from specific phobias are aware that their fear is irrational, but the thought of facing the object or situation often brings on a panic attack or severe anxiety.

Specific phobias may include persistent fear of dogs, insects, or snakes; driving a car; heights; tunnels or bridges; thunderstorms; and/or flying. No one knows what causes them, though they seem to run in families and are slightly more prevalent in women. Specific phobias usually begin in adolescence or adulthood. They start suddenly and tend to be more persistent than childhood phobias. When children have specific phobias–for example, a fear of animals–those fears usually disappear over time, though they may continue into adulthood. No one knows why they persist in some people and disappear in others.

Social Phobia can produce fear of being humiliated or embarrassed in front of other people. This problem may also be related to feelings of inferiority and low self-esteem, and can drive a person to drop out of school, avoid making friends, and remain unemployed.

Agoraphobia causes people to suffer anxiety about being in places or situations from which it might be difficult or embarrassing to escape–such as being in a room full of people or in an elevator. In some cases, panic attacks can become so debilitating that the person may develop agoraphobia because they fear another panic attack. In extreme cases, a person with agoraphobia may be afraid to leave their house.

Although this disorder is sometimes thought to be shyness, it is not the same thing. Shy people do not experience extreme anxiety in social situations, nor do they necessarily avoid them. In contrast, people with social phobia can be at ease with people most of the time, except in particular situations. Often social phobia is accompanied by depression or substance abuse.

People suffering from social phobia may:

  • View small mistakes as more exaggerated than they really are
  • Find blushing as painfully embarrassing
  • Feel that all eyes are on them
  • Fear speaking in public, dating, or talking with persons in authority
  • Fear using public restrooms or eating out
  • fear talking on the phone or writing in front of others

Medications for Phobias can include:

Generally psychotherapy using exposure therapy is successful in treating specific phobias. However, sometimes medications can help reduce the anxiety and panic symptoms you experience from thinking about or being exposed to the object or situation you fear.

Medications may be used during initial treatment or for short-term use in specific, infrequently encountered situations, such as flying on an airplane, public speaking or going through an MRI procedure.

  • Beta blockers. These drugs block the stimulating effects of adrenaline, such as increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, pounding heart, and shaking voice and limbs that are caused by anxiety.
  • Sedatives. Medications called benzodiazepines help you relax by reducing the amount of anxiety you feel. Sedatives are used with caution because they can be addictive and should be avoided if you have a history of alcohol or drug dependence.