What is Phobia? Learn it’s symptoms, types, and treatment

Most of us become anxious when we are forced to face situations that are outside our comfort zone. And, most of us are vulnerable to triggers that bring back unwanted thoughts; fears, traumas, and phobia included. Now, these situations might be anything, from the ones we’ve listed above to something that might be more personal and only known to you. 

Situation 1: You’re about to go on stage and deliver your first public speech to an audience of 500 people. You knew this was going to happen and have been preparing for over a week now. You have this. Or do you afraid of getting faint in public?

Situation 2: You’re having a conversation with friends, the usual stuff. You’re sipping on your coffee and are enjoying your time with them. Then suddenly, someone touches a topic that’s sensitive to you. It jogs back memories from your past, memories that you don’t want to re-visit, and ones that you’ve hidden from others. Wait, you thought you were over them. Or are you?

Situation 3: You’re taking the elevator to the 22nd floor of this high-rise glass building. The elevator is all fancy. It’s made of glass and lets you look at everything around and beneath you. Only, you don’t want to look. Check your palms. Are they sweaty? Did you skip a beat during any of the situations? What about your breath? Are you breathing faster than before the visualization?

Other situations: Have you ever feared extremely of heights, ants, numbers, flying, driving, or anything? Do you resist getting into the water where there is no harm in rejoicing dive into the pool?  Has marriage become extremely fearful for you?

There are many such utmost fears we stuck to. A person afraid of something is normal but if a particular situation or object triggers anxiety then you should go in deep. Because it could be the fear stop you from rejoicing your life. Here we would learn about the phobia, symptoms, and the most prevalent types.

Phobia is a type of Anxiety

A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder. It is an extreme form of fear or anxiety triggered by a particular situation, object, or thought even when there is no danger. Phobias sometimes seem funny and inept.

The situations mentioned above can bring back pent-up emotions that have been suppressed for long. They can consume you for no immediate and logical reason. These triggers are enough to let anxiety take over (1).

It is impossible to identify the reason why and which age the phobia has developed. In most of the cases, a phobia may develop in early childhood.

Some of the reasons and risk factors may include;

  1. Hereditary or Genetic
  2. Experiencing any traumatic Event
  3. Changing perception with Time and Age

No wonder parental overprotectiveness could also be a risk factor that increases the likelihood of an individual developing a specific phobia. It is very important to recognize the symptoms first.

Symptoms of phobia

Symptoms involve experiencing intense fear and anxiety when faced with the situation or object that you are afraid of. If your phobia is severe, even thinking about the situation or object symptoms can be prompt.

Physical Symptoms

  • Feeling unsteady, dizzy, lightheaded or faint
  • Feeling like you are choking
  • A pounding heart, palpitations or accelerated heart rate
  • Chest pain or tightness in the chest
  • Sweating
  • Hot or cold flushes
  • Shortness of breath or a smothering sensation
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Numbness or tingling sensations
  • Trembling or shaking

Psychological Symptoms

  • Feeling out of touch with reality or detached from your body
  • Fear of fainting
  • Fear of losing control
  • Fear of dying

If these symptoms are very intense, they could trigger a panic attack. Experiencing this type of acute fear is extremely unpleasant and can be very frightening. It may also lead to feelings of embarrassment, anxiety, or depression.

Thus, many people with phobias avoid situations where they might have to face their fear. While this can be an effective strategy to start with, avoiding your fears can sometimes cause them to become worse, and can start to have a significant impact on how you live your daily life.

Types of phobia

Many of us have fears about particular objects or situations, and this is perfectly normal. A fear becomes a phobia if;

• The fear is out of proportion to the danger
• It lasts for more than six months
• It has a significant impact on how you live your day-to-day life

Specific phobias – Types of specific phobias include those to certain animals, natural environment situations, blood or injury, and specific situations. The most common are fear of spiders, fear of snakes, and fear of heights. Occasionally they are triggered by a negative experience with the object or situation. Specific phobias affect about 6–8% of people in the Western world and 2–4% of people in Asia, Africa, and Latin America (2).

Social phobia – Social phobia is when the situation is feared as the person is worried about others judging them. Social phobia affects about 7% of people in the United States and 0.5–2.5% of people in the rest of the world.

Agoraphobia – Agoraphobia is when fear of a situation occurs because it is felt that escape would not be possible. Agoraphobia affects about 1.7% of people. 

Women are affected twice as often as men. Typically the onset is around the age of 10 to 17. Rates become lower as people get older. People with phobias are at a higher risk of suicide. The good news is that phobias are simple to understand and usually easy and quick to treat.

Treatment

Phobias are treated with a mix of treatment as well as drugs. You must make a consultation with a psychotherapist or qualified psychological health expert.

Exposure therapy – The therapy focuses on transforming your response to the object or a particular situation that you are afraid of. Steady, repetitive exposure to the source of your particular anxiety as well as the relevant thoughts, sensations, and feelings might aid you to discover to handle your anxiousness.

To conclude

If anxiety is taking over your life, then the only way you can truly start healing is to turn around and confront your demons. Before you start looking for treatments (and we don’t mean to undermine the effect of medications on anxiety), take a moment to pause.

Pause and look at the situation that is causing the anxiety. Is it fear, trauma, or phobia you didn’t realize you had or have left unaddressed for long?

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