A phobia is an obsessive, intense fear of an object or situation that exists over a long period of time. People with phobias have no rational explanation for their fears, and often there is no discernible cause. People with phobias worry about imagined events that are unlikely to happen in reality or are only a remote possibility. Phobias can cause a range of symptoms from mild anxiety to debilitating symptoms similar to those of panic disorders.
Specific phobias are very common and can appear in childhood or adolescence and tend to continue into adulthood. If the feared situation or feared object is easy to avoid people with specific phobias may not seek help; but if avoidance interferes with their careers or their personal lives, it can become disabling and treatment is usually pursued.
When facing this type of phobia people become very anxious and afraid, even the thought of the situation or object can lead to high anxiety and can interfere with the person’s ability to function.
Some common Specific Phobias:
People can have a phobia about anything. We can think why are people afraid of that particular object or situation but there is a feeling of real fear and symptoms although there phobia is irrational.
- Natural environment – Heights, water,
- Situational Phobias – Bridges, tunnels, being in closed spaces, lifts
- Travel – Driving in a car or public transport, flying, driving, lifts
- Weather – Thunder, lightening, wind, heat
- Animals – Dogs, spiders, mice, snakes,frogs
Specific phobias respond very well to CBT and exposure therapy, on a gradual basis to face their fear.
Become a member and attend one of our Recovery Groups with a trained leader or the Mentor Service and work on Anxiety Management and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
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.
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