What is a Phobia
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. These feelings start a spiral of fear and sufferers begin to think that they will get these awful feelings wherever they go. As a result, an agoraphobic stays at home; a claustrophobic avoids all lifts, a sufferer from monophobia is afraid of being alone and a space phobic avoids going outside into the garden.
Social phobia is a persistent fear of one or more situations in which the person is exposed to possible scrutiny by others and fears that he or she may do something or act in a way that will be humiliating or embarrassing or judged by others.
While many people with social phobia realize that their fears of being with people are excessive or unreasonable without the right help and support are unable to overcome them.
They also tend to believe that everyone there will be especially interested in them – in looking at them, thinking about them, and judging them.
People with Social Phobia have lots more visible, or observable, symptoms. They experience blushing, sweating, trembling, and voice cracking, which aren’t usually part of Panic Disorder.
Why do people suffering with Social Phobia have all these symptoms that others can observe? Because that is what they are afraid of. They hope so strongly not to show any anxiety that they end up showing the symptoms.
Also sufferers have low self confidence and low self esteem.
Common Situations in which Social Fears Occur
- Public speaking
- Entertaining an audience
- Eating in restaurants
- Writing in public
- Meeting people
- Going to meetings
- Giving a presentation
- Social functions, ie weddings, parties, a family get together, visiting neighbours,
Common unrealistic beliefs will contribute to your phobia
- If I am anxious I can’t function around people
- If I make a mistake people won’t like me
- If others think I am no good it must be true
- If I show any anxiety people will think I am weak
- If I am criticized it means I am no good
- If people disapprove of me I won’t be able to tolerate it
A person who suffers from Social Phobia will use ‘Avoidance behaviour’ and their main fears will be of people disapproving of them, fear of rejection and disappointment.
Why not join No Panic and lets us help you. We do Recovery Groups and a Mentor Service using Anxiety Management and Cognitive Behavior Therapy
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Understanding the Fear Response
All 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? 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.