Specific Phobias – How Do Phobias Affect Your Life?


The fight or flight response is our body´s natural way of protecting itself from the dangers of this world. If a wild grizzly bear is chasing you, you run. Your body does it automatically. If your child is drowning, you jump in after them. You don´t think about it, your body just goes into action. 

Your body determines whether it´s best to fight or react or run. For people who have this adrenaline surge triggered, it is normally in response to appropriate situations. For phobia sufferers, this response kicks into action inappropriately, triggering panic attacks. The anxiety episodes are so upsetting, that many people strive, regardless of the consequences, to avoid a repeat performance.

This is what keeps phobic´s from engaging in life; the fear. The extreme, unchecked and inappropriate response of their bodies is upsetting and humiliating and very few people want to knowingly expose themselves to an increased chance of a panic attack. Therefore, caution, no matter how silly or intrusive, is usually the most common path taken when confronting this problem.

Social phobia which is also referred to as social anxiety disorder limits a person´s social interactions and causes intense, uncomfortable sensations when a person is exposed to social situations. This problem can prevent you from speaking in front of others, attending cocktail parties or receptions or even eating in front of other people.

The fear for a sufferer is that they will be perceived as strange, stupid or completely crazy. These fears are often completely unfounded but still overwhelming and profound.

Social phobia can be generalized and extend to a wide array of social situations or it can be specific. A specific problem, that is fairly common, is paruresis. These sufferers find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to go to the bathroom in front of others or within earshot of anyone else.

Agoraphobia is another common and potentially very serious condition. Agoraphobia is technically the fear of open spaces but it really is the fear of having a panic attack in a place or situation where you do not have help or assistance readily available.  Agoraphobia is a condition that frequently develops in panic attack sufferers because they are worried about going places or doing things where they will have an anxiety attack.

Agoraphobia sufferers fear leaving home or the places they are familiar with. They don´t want to be alone in tunnels, on bridges or in any exposed venue where help will be hard or humiliating to attain. In its most extreme form, agoraphobia sufferers will refuse leaving their home, terrified of what will happen to them if they do. 

The subjects that social phobia and agoraphobia suffers fear are common in a lot of people. Many people would prefer not speaking in front of a crowd; many people are afraid of bridges and tunnels and get nervous in these places. For most people these feelings are transitory and also easily conquered. 

They push those feelings aside and go on with their lives. They stumble through the presentation, the speech in front of the crowd, the drive across the bridge. What separates these people from anxiety sufferers is the intense desire and need to avoid these situations at all costs.

Taken to the extreme, avoidance can lead to loss of your job, disruptions in your family life and leading an unfulfilled and scared life. This is not an appealing way to live and every effort should be taken to address your fears. Finding relaxation outlets for your stress will be one great step forward in addressing the needs of your body and mind and ending your battle with apprehension, angst and depression.