Phobias

Encountering certain obstacles or situations may leave one frightened, such as being afraid of the dark, high heights, or animals. Most of us are able to remain calm, rationalize the situation, and find a way around it,  but this doesn’t work everyone. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 10 million adults live with some kind of phobia.

What is a phobia?

Phobias, according to the American Psychological Association, are intense fears that result in distress and can be intrusive. Individuals with this anxiety disorder have an irrational fear of things that don’t pose any real threat.

Here are a few examples of common phobias:

  • Arachnophobia, which is the fear of spiders
  • Acrophobia, this is the fear of heights 
  • Agoraphobia, which is the fear of being in a situation you can’t escape from

The American Psychiatric Association simplified the symptoms into two points:

  • An out-of-proportion reaction, as well as the age playing a role in being inappropriate
  • The individual’s capability to behave normally is compromised

Treatment options

Unlike anxiety disorders, such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, there isn’t extensive research that has been completed on phobias, but that hasn’t stopped mental health professionals from finding ways to help patients.

  • Therapists help treat phobias by using psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy. The patients receive CBT (cognitive behavior therapy), where they can learn how to think, react, and behave to whatever it is that they fear. It is meant to reduce the feeling of overwhelming anxiety.
  • Medications, on the other hand, aren’t a cure but they help patients deal with symptoms.
  • Individuals can also learn stress-management techniques, such as meditation, yoga, or other holistic approaches.

While one of these methods may work for some, professionals may provide their patients with a combination of these treatments and remedies. Unfortunately, the cause of anxiety disorder is unknown. It may be due to genetics, the environment, or even developmental. But until then, people dealing with phobias should seek help.

services logo  The treatment for phobias can be similar to panic and panic attacks in that it is often beneficial to use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to challenge faulty or unhealthy thinking, perspectives and unhealthy thought patterns. Panic and phobias however, may need more attention than just changing them. Change is a process and what is the client to do during that process? This is where talk therapy is important so the client can talk through their feelings and thoughts. They can release some of the burden and decompress. 

Additional interventions may include Dialectical Behavioral Therapy to help the client stay focused on the present moment  - what is front of them - rather than what "might" or "could" happen. The present moment is often full of beautiful details humans take for granted. It is an amazing, sometimes spiritual experience when a human allows themselves to feel fulfilled and inspired. We are truly living when we learn to stop, look around, breathe, contemplate, and experience gratitude for the hundreds of little moments we encounter each day. Yes, this includes those days when everything else is just a mess! Because regardless of what other people or unwelcomed situations do to us, or take from us...they cannot take away our present moment, our ability breathe and our right to just BE in the moment.




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Wendy Wikstrom Snodgrass, LPC

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