What is Phobia?
A phobia is an anxiety disorder that causes an individual to experience extreme, irrational fear about a situation, living creature, place or object.
When a person has a phobia, they will often shape their lives to avoid what they consider to be dangerous.The imagined threat is greater than any actual threat posed by the cause of terror.
The person will experience intense distress when faced with the source of thier phobia.This can prevent them from functioning normally and sometimes leads to panic attacks.
TYPES OF PHOBIA:
There are three types of phobia recognized by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).These include:
> Specific phobia: This is an intense, irrational fear of a specific trigger.
> Social phobia or social anxiety: This is a profound fear of public humiliation and being singled out or judged by others in a social situation.The idea of large social gatherings is terrifying with social anxiety.It is not the same as shyness.
>Agoraphobia: This is a fear of situations from which it would be difficult to escape if a person were to experience extreme panic, such being in a lift or being outside of the home. It is commonly misunderstood as a fear of open spaces but could also apply to being confined in a small space, such as an elevator, or being on public transport. People with agoraphobia have an increased risk of panic disorder.
Specific phobias are known as simple phobias as they are linked to an identifiable cause that may not frequently occur in the everyday life of an individual, such as snakes.These are therefore not likely to affect day- to -day living in a significant way.
Social anxiety and agoraphobia are known as complex phobias, as their triggers are less easily recognized. People with complex phobias can also find it harder to avoid triggers, such as leaving the house or being in a large crowd.
A phobia becomes diagnosable when the person begins organizing their lives around avoiding the cause of their fear. It is more severe than a normal fear reaction. People with a phobia have an overpowering need to avoid anything that triggers their anxiety.
A person with phobia will experience the following symptoms.They are common among the majority of phobias:
* a sensation of uncontrollable anxiety when exposed to the source
* a feeling that the source of that fear must be avoided at all costs.
* not being able to function properly when exposed to the trigger.
* acknowledgment that the fear is irrational, unreasonable, and exaggerated combined with an inability to control the feelings.
A person is likely to experience feelings of panic and intense anxiety when exposed to the object of their phobia.The physical effects of these sensations can include:
> abnormal breathing
> accelerated heartbeat
> hot flushes or chills
> a choking sensation.
> chest pains or tightness
> butterflies in the stomach.
> pins and needles
> dry mouth
> confusion and disorientation.
A feeling of anxiety can be produced simply by thinking about the object of the phobia. In younger children, parents may observe that they cry, become very clingy , or attempt to hide behind the legs of a parent or an object.They may also throw tantrums to show their distress.
People can develop a phobia of almost anything ; these phobias may include:
— aerophobia: fear of flying
— zoophibia: fear of animals
— aquaphibia: fear of water
— acrophobia: fear if heights
— emetophobia: fear of vomiting
— driving phobia: fear if driving.
As society changes, the list of phobias
changes, for instance, nomophobia is the fear of being without a cell phone or computer.
It is unusual for a phobia to start after the age of 30 years, and most begin during early childhood, the teenage years or early adulthood.
They can be caused by a stressful experience, a life threatening event, or a parent or a household member with a phobia a child can ‘learn’.
HOW THE BRAIN WORKS DURING A PHOBIA.
Some areas of the brain store and recall dangerous or potentially deadly events.
If a person faces a similar events later in life, those area of the brain retreive the stressful memory , sometimes more than once.This causes the body to experience the same reaction.
In a phobia, the areas of the brain that deal with fear and stress keep retrieving the frightening event inappropriately.
There is no single treatment that works for every person with a phobia.Treatment need to be tailored to the individual for it to work.
The doctor , psychiatrist, or psychologist may recommend behavioural therapy, medications, or a combination of both.
Therapy is aimed at reducing fear and anxiety symptoms and helping people manage thier reactions to the object of their phobia.
There are a number of therapeutic options for treating a phobia.
* Desensitization, or exposure therapy:
This can help peoole with a phobia alter their response to the source of fear.They are gradually exposed to the cause of their phobia one step at a time.
* Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT):
The doctor , therapist, or Counselor helps the person with a phobia learn different ways of understanding and reacting to the source of their phobia.This can make coping, easier. Most importantly, CBT can teach a person experiencing phobia to control their own feelings and thoughts.
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