DR.J & COLLEAGUES

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Doctor's Desk

Phobias

The term "phobia" describes a set of anxious sensations triggered by the fear of a certain object or situation. It is a persistent and irrational fear triggered by the presence or thought of a certain object or circumstance that provides little or no actual threat. 

Exposure to such an object or scenario triggers an instantaneous reaction, resulting in acute anxiety (nervousness) or complete avoidance of the object or scenario. The distress caused by the phobia and/or the urge to avoid the object or scenario might make it difficult for the individual to function. Adults who suffer from a phobia are aware that their fear is excessive or illogical, yet they feel helpless and can’t change it. 

 

Types of Phobias

There are several types of phobias, depending on the item or scenario that is feared but the three main types are as follows: 

Social Phobia – Fear of social settings and meeting people. It often triggers social anxiety and makes the patient feel embarrassed and insecure. 

Agoraphobia – Fear of leaving the house and going in public places. It can cause panic attacks and anxiety.

Specific Phobias – Fear of a certain object or situation such as claustrophobia which is the fear of tight or closed spaces. It is triggered when the person has to encounter the object or situation. It can cause a lot of discomfort and embarrassment in everyday life if not treated. 

 

A few other categories of phobias include: 

  • Animal phobias

  • Situational phobias

  • Natural environment phobias

  • Blood-injection-injury phobias

Symptoms of Specific Phobias

Fear of a single thing or circumstance that is excessive or illogical is the biggest symptom of having a phobia. Some other indicators include:

  1. Avoiding the object or situation completely to prevent anxiety 

  2. Mentally suffering when encountering the object or situation 

  3. Physical symptoms – Symptoms of anxiety or a panic attack like racing heart, nausea or diarrhea, sweating, trembling or shaking, numbness or tingling, breathing difficulties (shortness of breath), dizziness or lightheadedness, and the sensation of choking

  4. Anticipatory Anxiety – When you get uncomfortable about being in specific scenarios or coming into touch with the object of your phobia ahead of time; for example, if you have a fear of dogs, you could be concerned about going for a walk since you could encounter a dog along the way.

Treatment

Many people with phobias do not require therapy; simply avoiding the source of their anxiety is enough to keep the condition under control. However, specific phobias that are impossible to avoid in everyday life, such as a fear of flying or fear of germs, are impossible to avoid. In this case, you may want to seek the help of an expert who guide you and treat you. 

Although most phobias may be treated, no single treatment is guaranteed to work for all of them. It is possible that a mix of therapies will be prescribed in certain circumstances. The following are the most common treatment options:

  • Strategies for self-help

  • Treatments that are discussed

  • Therapy

  • medication

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