Phobia

What is Phobia

The term ‘phobia’ is often used to refer to a fear of one particular trigger. A phobia is a persistent, excessive, unrealistic fear of an object, person, animal, activity or situation. It is a type of anxiety disorder. A person with a phobia either tries to avoid the thing that triggers the fear or endures it with great anxiety and distress. When a person has a phobia, they will often shape their lives to avoid what they consider to be dangerous. The imagined threat is greater than any actual threat posed by the cause of terror. You may experience a deep sense of dread or panic when you encounter the source of your fear. The fear can be of a certain place, situation or object. Unlike general anxiety disorders, a phobia is usually connected to something specific.

Phobias are more serious than simple fear sensations and are not limited to fears of specific triggers. Despite individuals being aware that their phobia is irrational, they cannot control the fear reaction. Some phobias are very specific and limited. For example, a person may fear only spiders (arachnophobia) or cats (ailurophobia). In this case, the person lives relatively free of anxiety by avoiding the thing he or she fears.

Causes of Phobia

Genetic and environmental factors can cause phobias. Children who have a close relative with an anxiety disorders are at risk of developing a phobia. Distressing events, such as nearly drowning, can bring on a phobia. Exposure to confined spaces, extreme heights and animal or insect t bites can all be sources of phobias.

It is unusual for a phobia to start after the age of 30 years, and most begin during early childhood, the teenage years or early adulthood. They can be caused by a stressful experience, a frightening event, a parent or household member with a phobia that a child can ‘learn.’

Types of Phobia

  • Specific phobia: These usually develop before the age of 4 to 8 years. In some cases, it may be the result of a traumatic early experience.
  • Complex Phobia: More research is needed to confirm exactly why a person develops agoraphobia or social anxiety. Researchers currently believe complex phobias are caused by a combination of life experiences, brain chemistry and genetics.
  • Claustrophobia: Fear of being in constricted, confined spaces. Severe claustrophobia can be especially disabling if it prevents you from riding in cars or elevators.
  • Aerophobia: Fear of flying.
  • Arachnophobia: Fear of spiders.
  • Dento phobia: This phobia generally develops after an unpleasant experience at a dentist’s office.
  • Driving phobia: Fear of driving a car.
  • Emetophobia: Fear of vomiting.
  • Erythrophobia: Fear of blushing.
  • Hemophobia: A person with hemophobia may faint when they come in contact with their own blood or another person’s blood.
  • Hypochondria: Fear of becoming ill.
  • Zoophobia: Fear of animals.
  • Aquaphobia: Fear of water.
  • Acrophobia: Fear of heights.  People with this phobia avoid mountains, bridges, or the higher floors of buildings. Symptoms include vertigo, dizziness, sweating and feeling as if they’ll pass out or lose consciousness.
  • Blood, injury and injection (BII) phobia: Fear of injuries involving blood.
  • Nomophobia: nomophobia is the fear of being without a cell phone or computer.
  • Escalaphobia: Fear of escalators.
  • Tunnel phobia: Fear of tunnels.
  • Agoraphobia: Agoraphobia is a fear of places or situations that you can’t escape from. The word itself refers to “fear of open spaces. Many people with agoraphobia fear they may have a panic attack in a place where they can’t escape.
  • Social phobia: Social phobia is also referred to as social anxiety disorder. It’s extreme worry about social situations and it can lead to self-isolation. A social phobia can be so severe that the simplest interactions, such as ordering at a restaurant or answering the telephone, can cause panic.
  • Glossophobia:This is known as performance anxiety, or the fear of speaking in front of an audience. People with this phobia have severe physical symptoms when they even think about being in front of a group of people.
  • Nyctophobia: This phobia is a fear of the nighttime or darkness. It almost always begins as a typical childhood fear. When it progresses past adolescence, it’s considered a phobia.

Symptoms for phobia

A person with a phobia will experience the following symptoms. The most common and disabling symptom of a phobia is a panic attack.

  • Sweating
  • Pounding or racing heart
  • Trembling
  • Hot flashes or chills
  • Inability to speak
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • A sense of impending doom
  • A choking sensation
  • Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
  • Chest pain, Tightness
  •  A sensation of butterflies in the stomach
  • Nausea
  • Shaking
  • Headache and dizziness
  • Feeling faint
  • A feeling that the source of that fear must be avoided at all costs
  • Numbness or  pins and needles
  • Dry mouth
  • Butterflies in the stomach
  • A need to go to the toilet
  • Ringing in your ears
  • Confusion or disorientation

Treatment

Phobias are highly treatable and people who have them are nearly always aware of their disorder. This helps diagnosis a great deal.

Speaking to a psychologist or psychiatrist is a useful first step in treating a phobia that has already been identified.

The doctor, psychiatrist or psychologist may recommend behavioral therapy, medications, or a combination of both. Therapy is aimed at reducing fear and anxiety symptoms and helping people manage their reactions to the object of their phobia.

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most commonly used therapeutic treatment for phobias. It involves exposure to the source of the fear in a controlled setting. This treatment can recondition people and reduce anxiety.

Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can help calm emotional and physical reactions to fear.

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