Nearly everybody has an unreasonable fear or two, for example, of spiders or the annual dental checkup. These worries are mild for most individuals. But they're called phobias when fears become so serious that they cause tremendous distress and interfere with your daily life.
A phobia is an extreme fear of something which poses little to no real danger in fact. Closed-in areas, heights, highway driving, flying insects, snakes, and needles are common phobias and fears. Phobias of practically everything, however, can be created. While most phobias occur in infancy, in later life, they may also develop.
You probably know that your anxiety is unreasonable if you have a phobia, but you somehow can't control your feelings. You could be nervous just thinking about the dreaded object or scenario. And the fear is automatic and crippling when you're finally introduced to the thing you're afraid of. The feeling is so nerve-wracking that you will go to great lengths to stop it, make yourself uncomfortable or even change your lifestyle. If you have claustrophobia, for instance, if you have to ride the elevator to get to the office, you could turn down a lucrative job offer. If you're afraid of heights, you could drive an additional 20 miles to avoid a tall bridge.
The first step to overcoming it is knowing your phobia. Knowing that phobias are popular is important. It also helps to realize that phobias are highly treatable (Having a phobia doesn't mean you're crazy!). You will conquer your anxiety and terror, no matter how out of control it feels right now, and begin living the life you want.
“Normal” fears vs. phobias or “irrational” fears
Experiencing fear in risky circumstances is common and even beneficial. Fear serves a defensive function, triggering the "fight-or-flight" automatic response. We are able to respond rapidly and defend ourselves, with our bodies and minds alert and ready for action. But with phobias, the risk is either non-existent or strongly exaggerated. It's only normal to be afraid of a snarling Doberman, for instance, but being afraid of a friendly poodle on a leash is unreasonable, as you may be if you had a dog phobia.
Normal fears in children
Many childhood fears appear to grow at particular ages and are normal. Some young people, for instance, are terrified of the dark and will need a night light to sleep. That doesn't mean that they've got a phobia. They will, in most situations, grow out of this fear as they get older.
The following childhood fears are, for example, extremely common and considered normal:
Loud sounds, strangers, separation from parents, big items for 0-2 years.
3-6 years-Imaginary stuff like ghosts, demons, darkness, sleeping alone, unusual sounds.
7-16 years-More practical issues such as injury, disease, success in school, death, natural disasters.
If the fear of your child does not interfere with or cause them a great deal of anxiety in their everyday lives, then there is no cause for excessive concern. However, if your child's social activities, school results, or sleep are interfered with by anxiety, you might want to see a trained child therapist.
Common types of phobias and fears
Four general forms of phobias and fears exist:
Phobias of animals, such as the fear of snakes, spiders, mice, dogs.
Phobias of natural environments, such as fear of heights, winds, water, and darkness.
Situational phobias, including the fear of enclosed spaces (claustrophobia), flying, driving, tunnels, and bridges. Situational phobias.
Blood-Injection-Phobia of injury, fear of blood, injury, disease, needles, or other medical processes.
However, certain phobias don't fall into one of the four categories that are common. That include paranoia about choking, fear of having a disease like cancer, and fear of clowns. Other common phobias that do not fit neatly into any of the four classifications include:
Social phobia is the fear of social environments where you might be humiliated or judged, also known as social anxiety disorder. If you have social phobia, you can be too self-conscious and afraid to humiliate yourself before anyone. Your worry about how you are going to look and what others are going to think might lead you to avoid such social situations that you would otherwise enjoy.
A type of social phobia is the fear of public speaking, an extremely common phobia. Other social phobia-related concerns include fear of public eating or drinking, talking to strangers, taking tests, mingling at a party, or being called on in class.
Traditionally, agoraphobia was thought to include fear of public places and open spaces, but is now believed to grow as a complication of panic attacks.
If you expect another panic attack, you become nervous about being in conditions where it would be impossible or embarrassing to escape. You're likely to avoid busy areas, for example, such as shopping malls and movie theaters. Cars, airplanes, subways, and other modes of transport should also be stopped. You might only feel secure at home in more serious cases.
Signs and symptoms of phobias
The signs of a phobia can vary from moderate feelings of fear and anxiety to a full-blown panic attack. Usually, the closer you are to the thing you're afraid of, the greater your fear would be. If getting away is daunting, the anxiety will also be greater.
A phobia's physical manifestations include:
Hearts speeding or pounding
Pain in the chest or tightness
Shaking or trembling
Feeling light-headed or dizzy
A stomach churning
Flashes of hot or cold; tingling sensations
A phobia's emotional signs include:
Feeling overwhelming fear or anxiety
Feeling a deep desire to flee
Feeling 'unreal' or disconnected from yourself
Afraid of losing control or going nuts
Feeling like you're going to die or pass out
Knowing that you're overreacting, but feeling unable to control fear
When to seek help for phobias and fears
While phobias are common, they don't often cause serious anxiety or interrupt your life significantly. For instance, if you have a snake phobia, if you live in a city where you're not likely to run into one, it might cause no problems in your daily activities. If you have a serious phobia of crowded spaces, on the other hand, living in a big city would pose a problem.
If your phobia may not have such an effect on your life, it's definitely nothing to think about. But it's time to seek treatment if avoiding the object, behavior, or circumstance that causes your phobia interferes with your daily functioning, or prevents you from doing things that you would otherwise enjoy.
Consider counseling for your phobia if:
It triggers terror, anxiety, and panic that is extreme and disabling.
You understand that your anxiety is irrational and unnecessary.
Because of your phobia, you avoid those circumstances and locations.
Your avoidance interferes or creates major distress with your daily routine.
For at least six months, you've had a phobia
Treating a phobia
Self-help methods and medication can also be effective in overcoming a phobia. Factors like the nature of your phobia, your access to clinical counseling, and the amount of help you need depend on what's best for you.
As a general rule, self-help is still worth a try. The more you can do for yourself, the more you can feel in charge, which goes a long way when it comes to fears and phobias. However, you may want to seek additional therapy if your phobia is so serious that it causes panic attacks or uncontrollable anxiety.
Therapy for phobias has an impressive track record. Not only does it work incredibly well, but you seem to see outcomes very rapidly, in as little as one to four sessions often. In the guise of a licensed therapist, though, help doesn't have to come. It can be immensely beneficial just to have someone to hold your hand or stand by your side while you face your fears.
Im afraid of death. 😔