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Understanding Phobias and Options for Recovery

 In Mental Health

A phobia, by definition, is an uncontrollable, irrational, and lasting fear of a particular object, situation, or activity. Unlike most generalized anxiety disorders, a phobia is typically specific to a specific trigger. Phobias can impact those who suffer from them in several ways. Those who suffer from phobias experience emotions related to fear deeply. Phobias can be very disruptive to a person’s daily life. While the person usually knows their fear is irrational, they cannot do anything to change it. It is estimated that as many as 19 million Americans have a phobia that causes difficulty in some aspects of their life. If you are battling a phobia and need help, reach out. There are many resource centers available to help guide you toward regaining stability in your life. 

Causes of Phobias

Many things have proven to cause phobias. Some of those include:

  • Genetic factors 
  • Environmental factors 
  • Traumatic events 
  • Medical conditions 
  • Social Anxiety or Anxiety Disorder 
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder 
  • Substance abuse 
  • Mental illnesses 

Types of Phobias

Some of the common phobias include the following:

  • Agoraphobia: the fear of open spaces, crowds, leaving one’s home, or being in a place where it is difficult to escape
  • Acrophobia: fear of heights 
  • Claustrophobia: fear of confined or crowded spaces 
  • Social phobia: also known as social anxiety
  • Glossophobia: performance anxiety or fear of public speaking 
  • Aviophobia: fear of flying 
  • Dentophobia: Fear of dentist or dental procedures 
  • Iatrophobia: fear of doctors 
  • Hemophobia: Fear of blood or injury 
  • Arachnophobia: fear of spiders 
  • Cynophobia: fear of dogs 
  • Ophidiophobia: fear of snakes 
  • Nyctophobia: Fear of nighttime or darkness 
  • Trypanophobia: fear of needles 

Symptoms of Phobias

The most common symptom of a phobia is a panic attack. Symptoms of a panic attack include the following physical symptoms:

  • Pounding or racing heart 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Rapid speech or inability to speak 
  • Dry mouth 
  • Upset stomach 
  • Nausea 
  • Elevated blood pressure 
  • Trembling or shaking 
  • Chest pain or tightness 
  • Choking feeling 
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness 
  • Sweating 
  • Overwhelmed feeling 

To someone without phobias, these may seem like ‘irrational fears,’ and it may be easy to dismiss the challenges someone with phobias experiences in their daily life. But to the person experiencing the anxiety and fear of a phobia, these feared objects or situations are genuine concerns. Simply ‘facing your fear’ is often not enough to overcome the effects of phobias for many people. Living with phobias can be intense and challenging to manage on your own. If you need help dealing with your phobia and overcoming anxiety, reach out. A rehabilitation facility may be beneficial for helping you regain control of your life. 

Phobia Treatment Options 

Treatment depends on the individual and the intensity of the phobia, but some of the options include the following. 

  • Inpatient rehabilitation 
  • Outpatient rehabilitation 
  • Exposure Therapy
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy 
  • Exposure therapy 
  • Stress management 
  • Relaxation techniques 
  • Learning to manage physical symptoms and other effects of phobias 
  • Medication 

If you or a loved one needs help managing your phobia, contact a mental health professional to discuss the best course of action. 

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