Phobias capture our minds
Many of us engage in exciting activities that make us happy and refreshed, possibly playing with pets, hanging out with friends, reading books, watching movies, and much more. Alternatively, some of us may find our happiness when someone says we have tackled certain situations fearlessly and smartly. It acts as a plus point or credit to our personality. For example, you were brave enough to save someone who was drowning in the water pool.
However, sometimes feelings of hatred or fear of somethings (such as heights, needles, insects, etc.,) known as a phobia, can creep into us unknowingly. The roots of these intense and irrational fears can stem out as so nerve-wracking and worsen our emotions and mindset. Fortunately, we can overcome phobias no matter how out of control they would feel at that moment or later.
Drilling into the types of phobias
When wondering about the kinds of phobias that exist among individuals, phobias are infinite in number. Many are known, and many are yet to be identified. Fortunately, to gain more clarity, many mental health research institutions, including the APA (American Psychological Association), have categorized phobias into the following three:
Specific Phobias: Labelled as the most commonly occurring phobia, individuals with certain types of specific phobia experience incapacitating and irrational fear. This includes the fear of insects or animals (such as cats or cockroaches), injection or injury (such as medical procedures or sharp tools), nature (such as rain or thunderstorms), situations (such as enclosed or confined spaces), or any other phobias of horror movies, clowns or certain noises.
Social Phobia: Also referred to as social anxiety disorder, individuals with social phobia experience intense fear of humiliation or public scrutiny when socializing with others. More than shying away, they tend to hold in them the fear of being rejected and offended.
Agoraphobia: When agoraphobia stems in individuals, they develop the fear of entering unfamiliar or anticipated situations such as being in enclosed or open spaces, being alone outside or in a crowd, etc. Sometimes, this phobia grows more than expected in individuals, hindering them from carrying out their day-to-day life activities.
Factors that give birth to phobia
We all know that if something like phobias exists among individuals, some element or situation is defined as the start point. Even when all the causes or one particular cause of why phobias occur have not been clearly identified, the following are the various factors contributing to phobia development:
Genetics: It has been found that certain phobias can run in families. For instance, if a child’s ancestors have experienced phobias, they can develop the same or different types of phobia. Additionally, research revealed that even though twins from a family with a phobia history are reared in different environments. There are high chances they may develop the same or similar kind of phobia.
Past traumatic events: If you have been a victim of traumatic situations or certain incidents such as you were injured by a cat long ago or been in a critical state post an adventurous trip etc., you are likely to have these situations live in you forever, resulting in feelings of phobia.
Environmental and/or behavioural factors: Suppose you grew up seeing your parents anxious or worried, showcasing them as role models. You tend to approach the situations similarly. This interferes with your actual ability to deal with situations, further developing severe and strong reactions to things you fear as you grow into an adult.
Caught in the stress web: Experiencing continuous stress for a longer period can develop feelings of depression and anxiety in individuals. As these feelings grow, they gradually reduce the individuals’ ability to cope with obstacles in certain situations. Thus, paving the path for fear and anxiety of being in such situations again.
Cultural elements: Cultural factors also play a role in the development of phobias, particularly agoraphobia and social phobia. For example, “tajin kyofusho” is a Japanese cultural-bound version of social phobia that involves individuals having an intense fear of humiliation, offence or body appearance, and aesthetics.
Symptoms displayed by phobic individuals
When talking about the possible symptoms a phobic individual can develop irrespective of the phobia, there can vary and be many in number. Some of the psychological symptoms of phobias include fear of dying, fear of fainting, fear of being far from reality or dissociation, fear of losing control, and so on.
However, if the symptoms become disabling or intense, there are high chances that they trigger panic attacks. Such feelings of fear could be extremely frightening and unpleasant, leading to anxiety, embarrassment, depression, loss of control, overwhelmed feelings, stress, and many more.
Overcoming the irrational fears of phobia
Many individuals do not want to accept they have phobias. As a result, they try their best to avoid situations that might trigger the phobia. For example, people who have autophobia (the fear of being alone) will never lose out on any opportunity that would result in them being alone. Instead, they will make sure to have someone or the other with them always.
Though this avoidance solution might seem effective initially, there are high chances this may have a significant impact on your life. It may eventually worsen your conditions and feelings. On the other hand, individuals develop a late realization that phobia of something has begun to grow in them and are confused about how to deal with it.
So, few effective treatment methods have been developed for phobias that include medications and professional therapy. Often, a combination of both treatments is the most helpful.
Medications: Intake of anti-anxiety or antidepressant medications aid in reducing the psychological and physical reactions and calm the emotional reactions to fear.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): CBT sessions for treating phobias include safely exposing the client in a controlled setting to the source of fear. For example, books will be placed as the source if the client suffers from bibliophobia. By tracking the negative thoughts and dysfunctional beliefs, this treatment aims to reduce anxiety and de-condition the client.