When a person has a phobia, they frequently modify their life to avoid what they perceive to be hazardous. The perceived threat outweighs any actual harm offered by the source of panic. Phobias are treatable mental illnesses. When confronted with the source of their fear, the individual will suffer tremendous distress. This can impair their ability to operate correctly and, in some instances, cause panic episodes. It is interesting to note that an estimated 19 million people in the US suffer from phobias. While there are some funny phobias, others are quite serious. In this article, we will examine some of the most noticeable phobia symptoms and their treatments.
What exactly is a phobia?
A phobia is an illogical and extreme Phobia. The term “phobia” is frequently used to describe a fear of a specific trigger. The American Psychiatric Association, on the other hand, recognizes three categories of phobia (APA). These are some examples:
A specific phobia is a robust and unreasonable fear of a particular trigger. Social phobia, also known as social anxiety, is a severe fear of public humiliation and being singled out or evaluated by others in a social setting. For someone who suffers from social anxiety, huge social gatherings are daunting. It is not synonymous with shyness.
Types of Phobias
1. Complex phobias
A complex phobia is far more likely than a single phobia to impact a person’s well-being negatively. For example, those who have agoraphobia may also have a variety of other phobias that are related to it. These include monophobia (fear of being alone) and claustrophobia (fear of feeling trapped in small areas). A person who has agoraphobia will seldom leave their house in extreme circumstances.
It is rare for a phobia to develop after age 30, with the majority developing during infancy, adolescence, or early adulthood. They can be brought on by a stressful experience, a terrifying occurrence, or a parent or household member who has a phobia that a youngster can ‘learn.’
2. Specific phobias
These often appear before the age of 4 to 8 years. It might be the outcome of an early traumatic event in certain situations. Claustrophobia, for example, may develop over time if a younger kid has an unpleasant encounter in a friendly environment. Observing a family member’s phobia in childhood can also trigger phobias. Arachnophobia is far more likely to develop in a child whose mother has the phobia.
How the brain functions during a phobia
Some parts of the brain store and recall potentially lethal events. When a person is confronted with a similar occurrence later in life, certain parts of the brain recover the unpleasant memory, often many times. This results in the same response in the body. In a phobia, the parts of the brain that deal with fear and stress repeatedly retrieve the terrifying experience.
Researchers have discovered that phobias are frequently connected to the amygdala, which is located behind the pituitary gland in the brain. The amygdala can cause the release of “fight-or-flight” hormones. These raise the body and mind’s alertness and stress levels.
Phobias are very curable, and those who suffer from them are almost always aware of their condition. This greatly aids diagnosis. Speaking with a psychologist or psychiatrist is a good place to start when dealing with an existing phobia. Most people find that ignoring the source of their fear helps them stay in control if the anxiety does not create significant issues. Many people who suffer from specific phobias do not seek therapy since their pressures are typically controllable. Some phobia triggers cannot be avoided, as is frequently with complex phobias. Speaking with a mental health expert might be the first step toward rehabilitation in these circumstances.
With the proper treatment, most phobias can be overcome. There is no single treatment that works well for everyone who has a phobia. Treatment must be individualized to the individual to be effective. The doctor, psychiatrist, or psychologist may recommend behavioral treatment, drugs, or a mix of both. Therapy aims to reduce fear and anxiety symptoms while also assisting patients in managing their reactions to the object of their phobia.
The drugs listed below are beneficial for treating phobias.
These can aid in the reduction of the physical symptoms of anxiety that often accompany a phobia. An upset stomach, lethargy, sleeplessness, and chilly fingers are all possible side effects.
People with phobias are frequently administered serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). They affect serotonin levels in the brain, which can lead to improved moods. SSRIs might produce nausea, sleeping difficulties, and headaches at first.
If the SSRI does not work, the doctor will prescribe a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) for social phobia. Individuals taking an MAOI may have to avoid specific foods. Dizziness, upset stomach, restlessness, headaches, and sleeplessness may occur at first.
It has also been shown that a tricyclic antidepressant (TCA) such as clomipramine or Anafranil can aid with phobia symptoms. Some of the first adverse effects are sleepiness, impaired vision, constipation, urinary difficulty, irregular pulse, dry mouth, and tremors.
A tranquilizer that may be administered for a phobia is benzodiazepines. These may assist in alleviating anxiety symptoms. Sedatives should not be administered to anyone who has a history of alcoholism. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)Trusted source updated its benzodiazepine warning in 2020. These medications can develop into physical dependency, and withdrawal can be fatal. When used with alcohol, narcotics, or other drugs, they can be fatal. When utilizing these medications, following the doctor’s directions is critical.
This can assist persons with phobias in changing their phobia to the source of their dread. In a series of escalating stages, they are gradually exposed to the source of their phobia. A person who has aerophobia, or a fear of flying, may, for example, complete the following measures under supervision:
- They will initially consider flying.
- The therapist will show them photographs of planes.
- The individual will fly to an airport.
- They will escalate further by sitting in a mock airline cabin for practice.
- They will finally board an aircraft.
Cognitive-behavioral treatment (CBT)
The doctor, therapist, or counselor assists the individual suffering from a phobia in learning new methods of comprehending and responding to the source of their phobia. This can help in coping. Most crucially, CBT may help people living with a phobia regulate their sensations and ideas.
Phobias can cause an individual actual and lasting anguish. However, they are curable in most instances, and the source of dread is frequently avoided. Getting treatment is one thing you should never be frightened of if you have a phobia. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) is an excellent place to start looking for a therapist. They also provide a variety of presentations on how to overcome specific phobias.