Specific phobias are irrational fears that do not actually pose much risk but induce much anxiety.
Specific phobias are irrational fears of objects or situations that do not actually pose much risk but cause much anxiety, often leading to intense physical and psychological reactions. Phobias may produce avoidance behaviors and can negatively impact your ability to function in everyday life. Common phobias include being in enclosed spaces, certain animals or insects, blood or needles, thunderstorms, heights, and clowns.
Regardless of the specific phobia, they are likely to cause some of the following symptoms:
- Avoiding the source of fear at all costs
- Intense fear, anxiety, and/or panic when you think about or are exposed to the specific fear with growing intensity as the situation becomes closer in physical or time proximity
- Physical manifestations of anxiety such as sweating, rapid heartbeat, tight chest, difficulty breathing, nausea, dizziness, or fainting
- Difficulty functioning normally due to fear
Causes of Specific Phobias
There is no known cause for specific phobias but a few possibly causes may include:
1. Negative experiences:
Often times a negative experience with the source of fear can lead to a phobia of the source
2. Genetics and Environment:
There may be a link between anxieties and/or specific phobias between parents and kids which could be due to genetics or learned behavior
3. Brain Function:
Changes in brain function may be involved in the development of specific phobias
Several treatments are available to work through specific phobias including the following:
- Prescription Medications such as beta blockers or sedatives may be used to help manage symptoms of a phobia including limiting the effects of adrenaline and helping your relax
- Psychotherapy can be used to help normalize reactions to the trigger through two main approaches:
- Exposure Therapy: focuses on changing your response to the source of fear through gradual and repeated exposure to the source starting with thinking about the situation or object to eventually encountering the source of fear in person.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT):
CBT combines exposure and other methods to learn new ways to view and cope with the fear