A Phobia is an intense dread of a certain situation or an object. They are anxiety disorders and there are three main types of phobias which exist:
Specific phobias - fear of an individual situation or object
Social phobia - fear of social situations in which you may be scrutinized
Agoraphobia - a fear of being away from home
You may have a phobia is you feel compelled to avoid a situation or object that you feel threatened or fearful of. You may understand that the fear is irrational and extreme but you are unable to stop feeling this way and the pressure of knowing this may make you more anxious and this knowledge does not help to lessen the fear. The most common types of phobia from the list above include: parties, dentists, school, water, driving, snakes, flying, age, fat, enclosed spaces and high places. However, it is not usually the object or situation that the person is afraid of it is usually the possible outcome. A person who suffers with agoraphobia can be fearful of three main things:
Of being alone
Fear of leaving home
Of being in a situation where you are unable to suddenly leave or obtain help
Someone who suffers from social phobia has a fear of being humiliated, condemned or examined in public. They therefore avoid parties, public speaking and any social event. There are possible side effects and they include, palpitations, blushing, stuttering, sweating, faintness or tremors. If the phobia is left untreated, the person may become depressed, withdrawn and socially incapacitated.
Some specific phobias can be explained by an early traumatic event, but the majority have no obvious cause. Most phobias are believed to be produced when an underlying fear is displaced onto an unrelated object. Agoraphobia might develop in response to repeated panic attacks and social phobia may develop in childhood, but the cause is unknown.
Most phobic people can eliminate their fears by just taking one small step at a time. Asking questions about a feared object or situation : ‘Is it safe?’, ‘Will it hurt me?’ will also help. Try to also practice shifting your thoughts in a positive direction as this can be quite helpful as well.
Regular exercise will help burn up adrenaline, which accompanies panic attacks, regular relaxation and deep breathing exercises are very helpful, especially when anxiety starts to rise. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, barbiturates and anti-anxiety drugs whenever possible.
When to seek further professional advice
If you have a phobia that interferes with a normal social or working life.
A professional person should be sought out for help as phobias are very difficult to treat by yourself. The essential oil of lavender has been found to bring relief from anxiety and a popular blend is 2 drops each of ylang ylang, lavender and bergamot and 1 drop of petitgrain put into a warm bath or vaporized in a burner. The blend can also be put on a handkerchief and used while you are out. Valerian tea or capsules is a good herbal therapy to ease anxiety, however this herb should not be used for long periods of times as it can become addictive in certain individuals. It should be used under professional supervision. There are a number of relaxation techniques, including meditation and yoga, that can help reduce the anxiety that surrounds phobias.
The form of treatment depends on the severity of the person’s phobia. The condition can eventually be treated so that the person can be able to live a normal life as well as being able to control their fears. Systematic de-sensitization therapy is highly successful in treating specific phobias. It usually happens step by step and in the safety of a known and safe place. The person will eventually be able to accept the ‘fearful situation or object’ if he is exposed to it gradually. Treating social phobia involves slow exposure to social situations, the person may become actively involved in role playing and rehearse their actions and reactions. This way they are able to lower their anxiety and are encouraged to be less self-critical. The best way to treat agoraphobia is to gradually move out into situations and places that trigger anxiety. It must occur slowly and gradually and in the company of a trusted friend or professional therapist. The person will eventually reduce their anxiety upon being exposed to these specific triggers.
The information contained in this Site/Service is not intended nor is it implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice or taken for medical diagnosis or treatment