Everyone has heard of fears and phobias. Everyone has experienced fear. But not everyone understands fully what a phobia is and how it is different from a fear.
But phobias are very different from mere fears because they are far more serious. The response to a phobia is immediate and uncontrollable. People experiencing phobias lose control of themselves and their reactions and can make life-threatening decisions.
Even when people realize that a phobia is being triggered they cannot help their reaction. It is entirely irrational and beyond their control.
Some of the symptoms of phobias can include screaming, chest pains, a sense that the world has gone “red”, a feeling of pins and needles on the hands and feet and elsewhere, and an urgent need to get away from whatever is causing the phobia. There are even more symptoms at Medical News Today, and they can vary be individual and the severity of the phobia.
Some phobias are so serious that they keep people from sleeping and can even trigger PTSD – a post-traumatic stress syndrome or disorder that is often associated with the difficult and life-changing experience of war.
Some common phobia triggers
Though specific phobias vary by the individual experiencing them, there are several common phobias experienced by many people. Some, but not all, have acquired medical names. Common phobias include:
- A fear of spiders (arachnophobia)
- A fear of specific animals, including snakes or dogs
- A fear of heights (acrophobia)
- A fear of tunnels
- A fear of vomiting, often triggered by someone vomiting (emetophobia)
- A fear of worms
- A fear of snakes
- A fear of water (aquaphobia)
Sometimes phobias are triggered by specific incidents that happened in childhood. For instance, a phobia of dogs is common among people who were attacked by dogs as children.
Other phobias appear to be directly related to our general sense of well-being. A fear for instance, of being outdoors during a lightning storm is certainly linked to a need for self-preservation and probably has its roots in our evolution.
So what can we do about our phobias?
Luckily our phobias do not need to keep us captive forever. Through specific treatment such as counseling people can learn to overcome their phobias, or at least to prevent their reactions from overtaking their rational mind and reactions.
Therapists will use several different approaches to address a patient’s phobia. They could use conversation therapy to discover the root of the phobia and to develop a sense of safety and well-being in the person who is suffering. This may include more onvolved techniques such as hypnosis.
Some therapists also use exposure therapy to get a person experience with their fear in a safe, controlled way.
If your phobia is controlling your life, don’t give up hope! Get help.