What are Phobias?
Phobias are a persistent, excessive, overwhelming and unreasonable fear that can be triggered by an object or situation.. This anxiety or fear is different than the temporary nervousness people feel when they have to give a speech or go on a roller coaster, phobias cause long lasting anxiety that can show itself physically and psychologically. It can greatly affect your ability to function in your everyday life, even when not exposed to the specific phobia. However, exposure to the trigger causes an instant and intense anxiety response, which is often times a panic attack. While the anxiety is real, a person with a phobia often times is able to recognize that the fear is unreasonable or disproportionate to the object or situation causing it. Adding onto the panic or anxiety reaction that may occur upon exposure to the phobia, the anxiety is long lasting due to the avoidance, anxious anticipation, and distress the phobia causes.
There are many different types of phobias, ranging from things that will be faced on a daily basis to things that may only occasionally or even never be present in one’s life. Phobias can be very specific, such as spiders or flying, or more generic, such as social situations or closed in spaces. The main groupings of phobias are specific phobias, social phobia, and fear of open spaces. Specific phobias are a fear or anxiety about a specific object or situation such as flying, heights, insects, or blood. Social phobia is more than just being shy, and involves excessive self-consciousness and fear of public scrutiny or being rejected in normal social situations. Fear of open spaces, otherwise known as agoraphobia, is a fear of a situation or anticipated situation where one will be in an open or enclosed space with no easy means of escape.
Symptoms of Phobias:
- A feeling of uncontrolled panic, terror, or dread.
- Strong and irresistible urges to do everything you can to avoid what you fear.
- The inability to function normally in your everyday life due to anxiety.
- Physical reactions to fear: sweating, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, flushing.
- Anxiety when thinking about what you fear, along with anxiety when exposed to the phobia.
How Does Counseling Help With Phobias?
Not all phobias need treatment; however, if a phobia is affecting your daily life, there are many therapy options out there that can help you overcome your fear. Phobias can lead to social isolation, depression, behavioral issues, and even suicide when severe. It is important to seek help for your phobia before it reaches this point. The goal of phobia treatment is to reduce your anxiety and fear and to help manage reactions to allow for the least amount of impact on your everyday life and emotional wellbeing as possible. Medication and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy are the most common treatments for phobias. Offices like The LodeStone Center have many practitioners that can provide the therapy that will help with your phobia. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy combines exposure therapy (or gradual therapeutic exposure in a safe environment that focuses on changing your response to an object or situation that you fear) and other techniques that help you learn ways to view and cope with the feared object or situation differently. It can help change your thinking in order to reduce the negative reaction to the phobia and allow you to resume the life you deserve.
How Can I Begin Treatment for My Phobia?
If you are interested in scheduling an appointment or have questions about whether we can help, please fill out our contact form to speak with out intake coordinator.