A phobia is an irrational fear or aversion of a particular activity, thing, or situation that causes deep emotional distress. Examples of specific phobias include the fear of spiders, flying on airplanes, going to the dentist, the sight of blood, or anything that causes intense panic or dread. Left untreated a phobia-related disorder can lead to disruption in normal functioning.
About Phobia-Related Disorders
While everyone is afraid of something or other, individuals with a phobia disorder have an unusually extreme fear response when encountering the trigger. Usually the object of the distress is not something that would actually cause any real danger, so the response to it is considered out of proportion to the supposed threat.
Specific phobia is an anxiety disorder that affects approximately 9.1% of U.S. adults according to the National Institute of Mental Health. About twice as many women develop a specific phobia, and about 22% of all adults who do will experience serious impairment. Phobias usually develop during childhood, although they can emerge at any age.
There are some possible factors that may cause a phobia disorder. These include experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event related to the specific phobia, experiencing an unexpected panic attack when exposed to the situation or thing that then sparks a phobia disorder, a family history of anxiety disorder, or exposure to violent or distressing news coverage related to the situation or thing.
Symptoms of phobia disorder include:
or 8.7% of the U.S. population, are estimated to be affected by specific phobias
of U.S. adults are estimated to have had specific phobia in the past year
of U.S. adults are estimated to experience specific phobia at some time in their lives
What are the Different Types of Phobia Disorders?
Different types of phobia disorder include:
How is Phobia Disorder Treated?
Phobias are treated much the same as other anxiety disorders. There is usually a combination of interventions, including medication, psychotherapy, and relaxation techniques.
Medication for Phobias
Medications can help individuals with specific phobia disorder. Antidepressants and benzodiazepines are two types of drugs that will help manage feelings of fear. Antidepressants are a systemic medication that enhance the levels of serotonin in the brain, and take 4-6 weeks before becoming effective, while the benzodiazepines are swift-acting sedatives.
Psychotherapy for Phobias
Therapy for phobia disorder includes exposure therapy and behavior modification through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Exposure-focused therapy gradually introduces the object or triggering situation allowing the individual to become incrementally less sensitive to it. CBT helps them identify thought distortions and learn new coping techniques when encountering a triggering thing or situation.
Relaxation Techniques for Phobias
Relaxation responses are employed at the time a trigger is encountered. These might include the practice of mindfulness and/or deep breathing techniques. Both of these activities can help to quickly reduce the anxiety that accompanies the triggering situation.
Specific phobia is a manageable disorder for individuals who comply with therapeutic interventions. By accessing these coping skills for phobia disorder the individual will be able to improve their level of functioning and enjoyed a better quality of life.
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