. Symptoms of Phobia
. Categories of Phobia
. Causes of Phobia
. Risk Factors of Phobia
. Coping and support of a Phobia patient
. Lifestyle and Home remedies of a phobia patient
. Treatment, drug, Medications of Phobia
What is phobia?
is an overwhelming and unreasonable fear of an object or situation that poses little real danger but provokes anxiety and avoidance. Unlike the brief anxiety most people feel when they give a speech or take a test, a phobia is long lasting, causes intense physical and psychological reactions, and can affect your ability to function normally at work or in social settings.
Several types of phobias exist. Some people fear large, open spaces. Others are unable to tolerate certain social situations. And still others have a specific phobia, such as a fear of snakes, elevators or flying.
Not all phobias need treatment. But if a phobia affects your daily life, several therapies are available that can help you overcome your fears — often permanently.
Phobias are divided into three main categories:
• Specific phobias.
A specific phobia involves an irrational, persistent fear of a specific object or situation that’s out of proportion to the actual risk. This includes a fear of situations (such as airplanes or enclosed spaces); nature (such as thunderstorms or heights); animals or insects (such as dogs or spiders); blood, injection or injury (such as knives or medical procedures); or other phobias (such as loud noises or clowns). There are many other types of specific phobias. It’s not unusual to experience phobias about more than one object or situation.
• Social phobia.
More than just shyness, social phobia involves a combination of excessive self-consciousness and a fear of public scrutiny or humiliation in common social situations. In social situations, the person fears being rejected or negatively evaluated or fears offending others.
• Fear of open spaces (Agoraphobia).
This is a fear of an actual or anticipated situation, such as using public transportation, being in open or enclosed spaces, standing in line or being in a crowd, or being outside the home alone. The anxiety is caused by fearing no easy means of escape or help if intense anxiety develops. Most people who have Agoraphobia develop it after having one or more panic attacks, causing them to fear another attack and avoid the place where it occurred. For some people, Agoraphobia may be so severe that they’re unable to leave home.
No matter what type of phobia you have, it’s likely to produce the following reactions:
• A feeling of uncontrollable panic, terror or dread when you’re exposed to the source of your fear
• The feeling that you must do everything possible to avoid what you fear
• The inability to function normally because of your anxiety
• Physical as well as psychological reactions, including sweating, rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, a feeling of panic and intense anxiety
• Often, the knowledge that your fears are unreasonable or exaggerated but feeling powerless to control them
• In some cases, anxiety just thinking about what you fear
• In children, possibly tantrums, clinging or crying
Much is still unknown about the actual cause of phobias. However, there does appear to be a link between your own phobias and the phobias of your parents. This could be due to genetics or learned behavior.
These factors may increase your risk of phobias:
• Your age.
Social phobia typically develops early in life, usually by age 13. Specific phobias first appear in childhood, usually by age 10. Agoraphobia occurs most frequently in the late teens and early adulthood, usually before the age of 35.
• Your relatives.
If someone in your family has a specific phobia, such as a fear of spiders or snakes, you’re more likely to develop it, too. This could be an inherited tendency, or children may learn phobias by observing a family member’s phobic reaction to an object or a situation.
• Your temperament.
Your risk may increase if you’re more sensitive, more inhibited or more negative than the norm.
• A TraumaTic event.
Experiencing a TraumaTic event, such as being trapped in an elevator or attacked by an animal, may trigger the development of a phobia.
Although phobias may seem silly to others, they can be devastating to the people who have them, causing problems that affect many aspects of life.
• Social isolation.
Avoiding places and things you fear can cause academic, professional and relationship problems. Children with these disorders are at risk of academic problems and loneliness, and they may not develop good social skills.
Many people with phobias have Depression as well as other anxiety disorders.
• Substance abuse.
The stress of living with a severe phobia may lead to substance abuse.
Some individuals with specific phobias may be at risk of suicide.
TREATMENTS AND DRUGS
Your doctor or a mental health provider may suggest medications or behavior therapy or both to treat phobias. Most adults don’t get better on their own and may require some type of treatment. The goal of phobia treatment is to reduce your anxiety and fear and to help you better manage your reactions to the object or situation that causes them.
Medications can help control the anxiety and panic from thinking about or being exposed to the object or situation you fear.
• Beta blockers.
These medications work by blocking the stimulating effects of adrenaline on your body, such as increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, pounding heart, and shaking voice and limbs that are caused by anxiety. Short-term use of beta blockers can be effective in decreasing symptoms when taken before an anticipated event, for example, before a performance for people who have severe stage fright.
Antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are commonly used in the treatment of phobias. These medications act on the chemical serotonin, a neurotransmitter in your brain that’s believed to influence mood. As an alternative, your doctor may prescribe another type of antidepressant, depending on your situation.
Medications called benzodiazepines help you relax by reducing the amount of anxiety you feel. Sedatives need to be used with caution because they can be addictive and should be avoided if you have a history of alcohol or drug dependence.
Talking with a trained mental health professional can help you deal with your phobias.Several types of psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, may be effective.
• Desensitization or exposure therapy focuses on changing your response to the object or situation that you fear and may be helpful for phobias. Gradual, repeated exposure to the cause of your phobia may help you learn to conquer 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 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 the impact they have on your life. There’s special emphasis on learning to develop a sense of mastery and control of your thoughts and feelings.
Treatment depends on the type of phobia you have:
• Specific phobias usually are treated with exposure therapy.
• Social phobias may be treated with exposure therapy or with antidepressants or beta blockers.
• Agoraphobia, especially when it’s accompanied by a panic disorder, is usually treated with exposure therapy or with SSRIs.
LIFESTYLE AND HOME REMEDIES
If you have unreasonable fears, consider getting psychological help, especially if you have children. Although genetics likely play a role in the development of phobias, repeatedly seeing someone else’s phobic reaction can trigger a phobia in children. By dealing with your own fears, you might not pass them on to your children.
COPING AND SUPPORT
Professional treatment can help you overcome your phobia or manage it effectively so you don’t become a prisoner to your fears. You can also take some steps on your own to cope and care for yourself:
• Try not to avoid feared situations.Family, friends and your therapist can help you work on this.
• Reach out. Consider joining a self-help or support group where you can connect with others who understand what you’re going through.
• Take medication as directed. Don’t stop a medication without first talking with your health care professional, as some medications can cause withdrawal-like symptoms.
• Take care of yourself. Get enough rest, eat healthy and try to be physically active every day.
Helping your child cope with fears
Childhood fears, such as fear of the dark, of monsters or of being left alone, are common, and most children outgrow them. But if your child has a persistent, excessive fear that’s limiting his or her ability to function in daily life, talk to your doctor.
To help your child cope with fears:
• Talk openly about fears.
Don’t trivialize the problem or belittle your child for being afraid. Instead, let your child know that you’re there to listen and to help.
• Don’t reinforce phobias.
Instead, take advantage of opportunities to help children overcome their fears. If your child is afraid of the neighbor’s friendly dog, for example, don’t go out of your way to avoid the animal. Instead, help your child cope when confronted with the dog. For example, you might offer to be your child’s home base, waiting and offering support while your child steps a little closer to the dog and then returns to you for safety. Over time, encourage your child to keep closing the distance.
• Model positive behavior.
Because children learn by watching, you can demonstrate how to respond when confronted by something your child fears. You can first demonstrate fear and then show how to overcome the fear.