A phobia is a persistent, uncontrollable and illogical fear of a specific object or circumstance. This fear is more prominent that a person will go to a considerable extent to avoid facing it. A panic attack is one possible reaction. This is a fear that comes on suddenly and lasts for several minutes. It occurs when there is no imminent risk.
Phobias can develop in childhood. However, they are most commonly seen between 15 and 20. They have an equal impact on men and women.
The following are some frequent phobias:
- the dark, gloomy enclosed areas
- getting sick when flying,
- having a parent, sibling or pet get sick or harmed,
- falling from great heights
- needles from insects and spiders (“shots” at the doctor’s office)
- thunder and lightning
Causes of Phobias
What causes fear to develop?
A phobia is defined as a kind of anxiety disorder that triggers emotions of impending danger that are out of proportion to the circumstances. Anxiety disorders can arise for a variety of reasons, including:
Neurotransmitters, specific molecules in the brain, send messages back and forth to determine how a person feels. Serotonin and dopamine are two vital neurotransmitters producing anxiety when out of balance.
An anxiety disorder can be triggered by a terrible incident (a family member’s illness or death) or even a significant life event.
Anxiety and fear can be inherited. Just as you inherit your parent’s traits, you can also inherit that parent’s tendency toward excessive anxiety and fear.
- Arachnophobia (Fear of spiders)
- Emetophobia (Fear of vomiting)
- Erythrophobia (Fear of blushing)
- Hypochondria (Fear of becoming ill)
- Zoophobia (Fear of animals)
- Escalaphobia (Fear of escalators)
- Tunnel phobia (Fear of tunnels)
- Aquaphobia (Fear of water)
- Acrophobia (Fear of heights)
And so on.
A person is more likely to experience feelings of panic and higher anxiety levels when exposed to the object of their phobia.
Some of the physical effects are
- accelerated heartbeat
- abnormal breathing
- chest pains or tightness
- hot flushes or chills
- a choking sensation
- feelings of butterflies in the stomach
- dry mouth
- confusion and disorientation
A feeling of anxiety increases simply by thinking about the object of the phobia. In younger children, parents may observe that they cry, become very clingy or attempt to hide behind a parent’s legs or an object. They may also throw tantrums to show their distress.
What are the common types of phobias?
What is a specific phobia?
A specific phobia is a deep fear created out of anything that is not usually dangerous.
Fears of the following are some examples:
- Flying – fearing the plane will crash
- Dogs – fearing the dog will attack or bite
- Confined or closed spaces – fear of getting trapped
- Tunnels, a type of underground passage – fearing a collapse
- High altitude or Height – fear of falling
People who have a specific phobia are aware that their fear is extreme. However, they are unable to conquer it. A problem is diagnosed only when a particular phobia interferes with regular school, work or home activities.
They are more prevalent in women. People with phobias may not seek treatment if the object of their fear is easy to ignore. They may not be able to make a significant career or personal decisions to avoid situations that include the phobia’s origin.
Specific Phobia symptoms
- Avoidance of the phobia’s source.
- Scared of coming into contact with the phobic thing or having an unpleasant experience with it.
- Enduring an encounter or experience with the phobic object while feeling extremely anxious, causing typical routines and activities to be considerably disturbed.
How Specific Phobia is treated?
Treatment for phobias that interfere with a person’s life can be beneficial. Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) combined with exposure treatment is recommended for certain phobias. People are slowly exposed to what frightens them in exposure treatment until the fear fades away. Relaxation and breathing exercises are also beneficial in alleviating discomfort.
In social phobia, a person has severe anxiety and discomfort due to fear of being embarrassed or humiliated by others in social circumstances. Even if they can overcome their fear, people with social phobia are likely to:
- Feel apprehensive about the event or outing ahead of time
- Throughout the function or tour, you will be quite uncomfortable
- Have bad feelings that linger after the event or outing?
- Social phobia may happen in the following situations,
- Public speaking
- Meeting people
- Dealing with higher authorities
- Eating in public, etc.
When fear or avoidance of social situations severely interferes with daily routines or is highly upsetting, it is characterised as social phobia.
Social phobia disrupts normal living, which interferes with one’s profession or social interactions. It is common in families and can occur in conjunction with depression or drinking. Early adolescence, or even younger, is a common starting point for social phobia.
How is Social Phobia treated?
When people with social phobia are treated with cognitive-behavioural therapy, pharmaceuticals or a combination of the two, they often find relief.
Agoraphobia is also an anxiety disorder that causes excessive fear of certain situations. It is characterised by a strong fear of becoming overwhelmed or being unable to seek help. People with agoraphobia typically avoid new places and circumstances because of fear and anxiety. They avoid,
- Spaces that are open or enclosed.
- Locations outside the home.
- Using public transport.
People with agoraphobia are more likely to suffer from sadness, weariness, tension, alcohol or drug addiction issues, and compulsive disorders, all of which necessitate therapy.
An individual’s phobias might be a source of actual and persistent distress. They are, however, treatable in the vast majority of cases, and the source of fear can be avoided.
The one thing you should never be frightened of if you have a phobia is seeking proper psychological treatment.
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