Phobia: The Fear Within

A phobia is a clinical term that is used to describe an irrational and persistent fear of certain objects, situations, activities, or persons. These fears are beyond one’s control and may interfere with one’s daily activities. Phobias belong to a large group of mental problems known as anxiety disorders, other conditions included in this group are obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, and post traumatic stress disorder. There are many forms of phobias, and they can be a fear of something specific such as flying or social fears that may cause certain individuals to feel anxious in social situations. Other examples of this disorder may involve fear of small animals, closed spaces, and snakes. It usually begins at home and persists into adulthood. Some of these conditions if not treated may hamper a person’s development.

Health researchers believe that common forms of phobias may include the following:

Arachnophobia—the fear of spiders.
Ophidiophobia—the fear of snakes
Acrophobia—the fear of heights
Agoraphobia—the fear if circumstances in which escape is difficult. It may include crowded areas or open spaces.
Cynophobia—the fear of dogs
Astraphobia—the fear of thunder and lightning
Trypanophobia—the fear of injections
Social phobias—the fear of social situations
Pteromerhanophobia—the fear of flying
Mysophobia—the fear of germs or dirt

The causes of phobias are not yet determined by health experts, but research suggests that the occurrence of this condition can be a complex interaction of the genes and the environment. Some suggest that it is caused by an early traumatic event like a bite of a dog, being trapped in a closed space, or being humiliated in public. Hypersensitive individuals may respond differently to stress because of unique chemical reaction in the brain. These people may also be sensitive to caffeine because this substance triggers certain brain chemical responses.

Symptoms of phobias may include the following:

Fear of specific objects, situations, or activities.
Often feel stressed or have a panic attack when near the object, activity, or situation.
Avoidance of the object, situation, or activity is often done.
Fear and stress often hinders normal activities like studying or working.

Treatment for phobias may differ from one person to another. In fact, this condition is considered as one of the most treatable mental health problems. Most treated patients may continue to live normal lives. Individuals who have a certain phobia that is easy to avoid and does not hamper their daily activities may not require professional help. However when this condition interferes with a person’s activities or daily routine, health specialists would normally encourage the phobic person to undergo a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Antidepressants may also reduce fear and panic and are proven to be effective in many cases. Anti-anxiety drugs may also help but patients may develop dependence on these medications.

A supportive relationship with a health professional, family members, and friends is essential in treating phobias. In many types of phobias, some symptoms might be relieved by taking a healthy diet and including physical activities in one’s lifestyle. Eliminating caffeine, cutting down on alcohol, having regular exercise, and reducing stress are essential in relieving symptoms of certain phobias.