We all have a fear of natural things, situations, and people harming or affecting our life in some ways – such as electric shock, earthquake, and robbers. However, some of us also have an unreasonable yet excessive fear to certain objects and circumstances personal to us. Such a lasting and irrational timid reaction triggered by the presence or thought of a particular situation or object is known as phobia although it often poses little or no actual danger. The appearance of the situation or object evokes an immediate reaction, causing the individual to experience intense anxiety (nervousness) or to prevent the situation or object altogether.
According to Anger and Depression Association of America, around 19 million Americans, i.e. 8.7% American population suffer from phobic disorder preventing them from leading a normal life. Furthermore, the study suggests that females are twice as likely to be affected as males. Typically it begins in childhood at the median age of 7 years.
Types of Phobias
There are different types of phobias depending upon the object or situation feared. Some of the few common are as follows:
- Agoraphobia: It is a fear of circumstances and places that you can’t escape from. Even the word ‘Agoraphobia’ itself refers to the fear of open spaces. Individuals with such phobia usually avoid social situations entirely and stay inside their homes.
- Arachnophobia: Women are more susceptible to this than men by the fear of spiders.
- Blood-injection-injury-phobias: These include a fear of beings harmed, of seeing blood or an invasive medical procedure, like a blood test or injection.
- Acrophobia: The fear of heights.
- Ophidiophobia: The fear of snakes.
- Cynophobia: The fear of dogs. Such a fear is usually associated with someone’s personal experiences, like being bitten by a dog in childhood.
- Situational phobias: These involve a fear triggered due to specific situations, such as riding in a car, flying in an airplane, traveling in public transportation, going through tunnels or over bridges, or of being in a closed place, like an elevator.
- Pteromehanophobia: The fear of flying which is usually treated using exposure therapy, in which introduction to flying is made to the affected candidate gradually and progressively.
- Mysophobia: The fear of dirt or germs that may be related to obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Symptoms of Phobia
Panic attack is amongst the most common and disabling symptom of phobia, and its features include:
Shortness of breath
- Pounding or racing heart
- Dry mouth
- Rapid speech or inability to speak
- Upset stomach or nausea
- Trembling or shaking
- Elevated blood pressure
- Choking sensation
- Chest pain or tightness
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Sense of impending doom
- Profuse sweating
Treatment for Phobia often involves medications, therapeutic techniques, or a combination of both:
1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is the most often employed therapeutic treatment for phobias in which a patient is exposed to the source of the fear that frightens him or her, but in a controlled setting until their fear begins to fade.
Anti-anxiety and antidepressants medications can help calm both physical and emotional reactions to fear.
Relaxation Techniques, such as mediations and deep breathing, may also alleviate anxiety symptoms.
A phobic disorder disturbs an individual’s normal life. But, no worries because it can be treated. However, it should be cured as soon as possible. Since the delay in treatment may reinforce the disorder.