Do you see things in the dark that give you chills but actually aren’t there? Chances are you might have some kind of phobia. But you are not alone. Around 19 million people (about the population of New York) in the US suffer from phobias.
What is a phobia?
A phobia is an anxiety disorder that makes you feel fearful about a situation, living creature, thing, or object. These things or situations work like a trigger to make you feel irrational fear or intense anxiety which poses little or no danger at all. Exposure to these triggers leads to intense anxiety, distress, fear, and sometimes panic attacks.
What specifically causes phobia is still unknown. But there are some factors that can lead to phobia including:
- If you have experienced any traumatic event in the past or associate it with any specific situation, thing, animal, or object.
- Genetic and environmental factors.
- Medications or medical conditions like traumatic head injuries.
- Mental illnesses like schizophrenia, depression, etc.
- Fear learned from parents, friends, etc. can lead to a phobia.
It is not necessary for people with a phobia to experience all the factors above. One or two factors are enough to develop a phobia.
Specific types of phobias are triggered by specific things, situations, or objects.
Symptoms can vary from person to person depending on the trigger. The most common symptoms are:
- Feeling uncontrollable anxiety when exposed to the source of fear /trigger to the point that you try everything to avoid it at any cost.
- Not able to function properly when exposed to the trigger (even after acknowledging that the fear is irrational, unreasonable, and exaggerated) combined with an inability to control the feelings.
- You might experience physical effects while experiencing an anxiety/panic attack through exposure to the trigger, like:
- Racing and pounding heart
- Hot flashes and chills
- Dry mouth
- Upset stomach
- High blood pressure
- Chest pain
- Choking sensation
- Tightness in the chest
- Children show their phobia by crying, hiding behind their parents’ legs or objects, or might throw a tantrum to show their distress.
Having any of these symptoms gives you a hint that you need help.
Treatment can be done through therapies and medications or a combination of both.
- CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) is the therapy that is used to treat phobia. In this therapy, the person is exposed to the fear/trigger in a controlled setting until their fear starts to fade away. It not only helps with anxiety but also helps to change negative thoughts, dysfunctional beliefs, and negative reactions to phobic situations.
- Medications like antidepressants, beta-blockers, or tranquilizers medications are used to treat phobias. Beta-blockers help to reduce the physical effects of anxiety. But it has some side effects too such as fatigue, cold fingers, upset stomach, and insomnia. Antidepressants are used to affect the brain to create happy moods. But this also has its own side effects. Tranquilizers such as benzodiazepines are used to reduce the symptoms of anxiety. But people who have been alcohol addicts in the past should avoid this drug because it can be life-threatening to them.
- Some other relaxation techniques like deep breathing, mindfulness meditation, etc. are also helpful to reduce anxiety. A combination of therapy with medications is mostly preferred by the doctor.
Want to know which therapy and medication or their combinations work for you?
Call us at 718-DORAL-55 to schedule a consultation.