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What Is a Phobia?

Every individual in the world is fearful of one thing or another at one point in life. People can be afraid of many different things, from spiders and snakes to a fear of falling or dread at the thought of speaking in public. Regardless of the fear, being afraid of something is natural and normal. However, when an individual’s fear becomes irrational or excessive and interferes with everyday life, the fear has turned into a phobia.

Understanding Phobias

When individuals develop a phobia, they experience irrational fear on extreme levels. The fear can be about a specific situation, an object, people, animals, or something in the environment. For example, some people develop a fear of driving after being in a car accident.

Phobias can cause individuals to alter their lives to avoid feeling the extreme fear or anxiety they experience in response to their triggers. A person who fears driving might stop driving altogether, while a person who has a phobia of spiders might be unable to sit on outdoor furniture for fear that a spider might be lurking out of sight under the seat.

Those that struggle with phobias may deal with trembling, shortness of breath, increased heart rate, panic attacks, and the desire to get away from specific situations. A phobia can cause a person to make drastic changes to their life in order to avoid the situation or object that triggers their extreme anxiety and can interfere with a person’s ability to function.

The Root of Phobias

Many individuals do not know how to find help when they experience a phobia. People often don’t understand where the phobia came from or how to cope with it. The cause of phobias is not always known, but they are frequently associated with a traumatic experience. Phobias could also be a learned behavior — if a parent is afraid to be in the same room with a snake, even if that snake is confined in its habitat, that parent’s child could develop a phobia of snakes.

Getting Help for Phobias

Although phobias can cause significant distress, the good news is that they can be overcome with the help of appropriate treatment. Phobias are considered a type of anxiety disorder and can be treated with therapy, medication, or a combination of the two. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is helpful in treating phobias, and relaxation techniques can also help alleviate symptoms.

At The Guest House, our certified trauma therapists understand that phobias can lead individuals to have uncontrollable anxiety and an urge to shy away from people, places, and things, causing distressing symptoms. If you are experiencing a phobia and the resulting symptoms, it may be time to reach out to a mental health care provider who can help you reduce the fear and get your life back. For more information on phobias and how our therapists at The Guest House can help, reach out to us at (855) 483-7800.