Are Phobias Controlling Your Life?
By Kate Gardner
We're all scared of something: spiders, thunder, clowns. Most of the time, these fears aren't so bad they interfere with our lives. We might shriek or shudder when we see a spider, but once the spider is gone, so is the worry. For many, though, this isn't the case. The worry and fear follow them throughout their days, making life difficult and leading to isolation.
WebMD tells us that phobias are a form of anxiety disorder. Phobias manifest as severe and irrational fear about a certain place, situation, or object. People with this disorder may do their best to avoid the thing they're afraid of, or be very anxious while enduring it. People with phobias may try to ignore their fear only to find that doing so makes it worse.
No one knows why some people develop phobias while others don't. Healthline.com says that some phobias may begin in childhood. Research also suggests that there may be a genetic component, as you are more likely to develop a phobia if a relative has one, too.
You can develop a phobia in response to just about anything. Common phobias include:
- Agoraphobia - This phobia is often defined as a "fear of open spaces" but it actually represents any situation outside the home that the person fears they can't escape from, such as large crowds.
- Social phobia - Also known as social anxiety disorder, this phobia means that you're scared of social situations, such as parties, speaking in public, or even answering the phone.
- Claustrophobia - This phobia is the fear of small or confined spaces.
- Health phobias - These phobias revolve around anxiety about health. People with health phobias may be scared to go to the doctor or have medical tests run, such as having blood pressure taken.
Fortunately, there are treatment options for phobias. Treatment can involve therapy, medication, or both. MayoClinic.com walks us through several common options.
- Exposure therapy - This form of therapy uses controlled exposure to the frightening situation or object to help the patient better manage their response to it. It is done in a safe setting and progresses slowly.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy - This form of therapy utilizes exposure in combination with other elements that help the patient develop new thoughts and feelings about the situation or object of which they are afraid.
- Medication - Short-term use of medications like benzodiazepines (Xanax, Ativan) can help sufferers relax and decrease their anxiety. Additionally, beta-blockers (medication typically used to treat high blood pressure) are helpful as they can reduce the body's sympathetic nervous system response that causes the increased blood pressure, heart rate, and other physical feelings of anxiety.
Phobias can take over your life, but there is hope. If you are worried that your fear is getting the better of you, talk to a healthcare professional.
To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Euless, Tex.