Amongst forms of anxiety disorders are also classified phobias, which are specific fears that an individual develops. They may be intense and are usually irrational. Familiar phobias include fear of closed in spaces, fear of heights, flying, driving, water, insects and blood.
How do you tell the difference between having having an anxiety-related phobia and a healthy fear of something? Many people have a range of instinctive or natural fears, some of which are severe. Those who have never flown before are often afraid of the idea of flying, but that doesn’t mean they have an anxiety phobia.
Phobias do not involve just ordinary fear; they are an irrational and an extreme fear of a particular situation or object. People affected by phobias can often be fearless in almost all other other aspects of their life, perhaps able to fly in a plane or even parachute out of one, but are frightened of going above the tenth floor on an elevator. Or someone may work a dangerous job with many risks but still have a great fear of birds.
Phobias can be quite specific. Many recorded cases exist in which common objects were the object, and even exceptionally infrequent situations have been seen to be the source of high levels of anxiety. These fears are usually unwarranted, and the sufferer may also realize that. That doesn’t change the level of anxiety, though. Anxiety due to the phobia may lead to other disorders, for example obsessive compulsive disorder or panic disorder.
Physical symptoms will usually go along with the phobia. These can include prolific sweating, chest pain, increased heart rate (tachycardia), panic attacks, dizziness, nausea, or faint spells.
An estimated nineteen million Americans are affected by phobia disorders. Causation is thought to be linked with genetic factors, although the development of the disorder is not entirely predictable. Childhood or adult trauma may also be a involved. If someone learns the fear of a certain object or situation through a life-threatening experience it can grow into a phobia.
Some believe that avoidance is the best treatment for phobias, and that may be one answer, but only if that the phobia is of something rare not frequently encountered in normal life. If the phobia trigger is unavoidable, it’s advisable to seek professional help. Assistance will not involve medication but psychotherapy or behavioral therapy. It can be expected to entail the systematic desensitization technique. The process involves gradually exposing a patient to the phobic trigger after receiving training in how to react to the object and maintain control.