The beginning of a phobia usually follows periods of stress and often starts after a final trauma. “The last straw, which breaks the camel’s back” or after a first panic attack which appears to come out of the blue. In the early stages of a phobia, sufferers feel frightened when in a particular place or situation, without knowing exactly why. Whenever they go into the particular place or situation they experience an overwhelming feeling of impending disaster and feel a compulsive urge to escape from it. Sufferers do not know why they are afraid but the feelings of fear that they experience are very real.
A phobia is actually a fear of fear because sufferers are not really frightened of any particular place or situation but are frightened of the feelings of terror that they get when they are in those places or situations. This is known as the “what if” factor and consequently sufferers avoid more and more situations and places just in case “what if” occurs. Needless to say it never does nor ever will happen but sufferers cannot bring themselves to take that risk.
Hospital and Other Related Phobias
Hospital Phobia is a very common fear. The great majority of people experience a certain level of anxiety about hospitals that might revolve around the fear of pain, injury, blood and being under the control of strangers whilst separated from the family, etc. However, when the fear becomes irrational to the point where necessary treatment for an illness might be avoided, then the phobia has to be dealt with.
The phobia may actually revolve around things associated with hospitals such as white coats, nurse’s uniforms or hospital smells. If the fear is focused on something specific, then this can be integrated into a No Panic Recovery Programme.
Dental Phobia often occurs on its own but can be associated with a fear of blood, injury, or may be part of agoraphobia i.e. agoraphobia being the fear of being trapped or anywhere you feel unsafe thus, a dentist’s chair could fall into the ‘trapped’ situation.
Many people have a natural tendency to feel uncomfortable at the sight of blood. A mild fear of blood is fairly common in both children and adults. Approximately one to two million people suffers from this, making the fear of blood one of the most common phobias. Also there is a feeling of fear that the person might faint. This also involves a fear of being injured or of medical procedures such as blood tests or injections.
The problems regarding injection phobia usually centred on the sight of the needle itself or contamination from a previously used needle.
People worry and are anxious before appointments or facing their feared object or situation and often think the worst is going to happen, cancelling appointments or avoiding the situation they fear.
Let us help you and join one of our Recovery Groups with a trained member of staff where you will learn anxiety management and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.
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The Fear Response
All anxiety disorders, for example phobias are centered round our natural reactions to fear. People who suffer from Phobias are really afraid of the feelings of fear that accompany their feared situation. Nearly all phobias are related around situations, places, object or animals which cannot possibly harm them.
Fear is a natural response in all of us. It keeps us safe by making sure that most of the time we are not in dangerous situations. However sometimes when we are not thinking about what we are doing, we do things that are dangerous, e.g. stepping off the pavement without looking and almost getting run over. The vehicle, as it is getting close, will probably sound its horn and our ‘fear response’ will get us out of danger. The shock to our system, when something like this happens, is enormous and very unpleasant. This may cause us to have some unpleasant symptoms, sweating, shaking, trembling, feeling nauseous, and our heart pounds. Without our fear response we would not have reacted but stood where we were in the road and the consequence of that is not hard to imagine.
Fear is a skill, which we have learned as we grow up. How many times do we see children run onto a busy road? They have not learned the fear response.
It can be seen clearly that fear in the right place is essential to our well being. Without it I doubt if most of us would survive very long. Having established that that we need to survive, what has this to do with phobias or anxiety disorders? The answer is that, over a long period of time, sufferers have learned too much fear and misinterpret situations as if they are real danger. Our body will always respond to the tension in our body and the way we think with the primitive reaction of the ‘fight and flight’ response.