Fears and Phobias

by | Mar 24, 2018 | Anxiety, Panic Attacks

What are phobias?

We’re nearly all scared of something. But when does being scared of something become a phobia? The mental health organisation Mind UK states that phobias are “… a type of anxiety disorder. It is an extreme form of fear or anxiety triggered by a particular situation (such as going outside) or object (such as spiders), even when there is no danger.” 

You may have quite a mild reaction to something, and it’s no more than an aspect of your personality. If so, the phobia probably doesn’t impact on your life a great deal. I myself have a fear of tiny holes which is called Trypophobia. This can be devastating for some people, but in my case it is just a mild discomfort.

But some people suffer so badly with phobias that exposure to the fear can cause a full blown panic attack. This can lead to other anxieties.

For example, if you have a fear of traffic and have a panic attack, it could lead to a wider fear of going outside. If anxieties build like this, your world can shrink and it begins to drastically affect your quality of life. Perhaps you have a crippling fear of flying. And maybe this impacts on your family, being unable to go abroad on holiday or for work.

How common are phobias?

Around 2.5% of britons suffer with some kind of phobia. For example, you might suffer from Ophidiophobia (a fear of snakes). If so, then according to a poll by YouGov you share your fear with 31% of the people surveyed. And if you’re afraid of heights (acrophobia), you’re certainly not alone as this is the biggest fear, affecting 35% of those surveyed. 

How do we get a phobia?

Did you know that the same mechanism that causes the fear is the very same one that keeps us safe?The part of our brain responsible for keeping us safe (our amygdala), is constantly scanning for danger. If something in our past has caused our brain to determine that a certain object or situation is a threat to our safety, then it will store this information away and will react accordingly every time it sees it.

When we do see it, our fight or flight mechanism will be activated. We will experience an accelerated heart rate, sweating and the urge to run, amongst other things.

When we are in this state, we cannot think rationally. So it is no help when someone tells us, ‘it’s fine, it’s perfectly safe, don’t worry about it’. If we are not in the situation, we are usually already aware that the fear is irrational anyway. If we are faced with the fear or phobia, we can’t think rationally anyway and their advice falls on deaf ears.


How can we help?

Wouldn’t it be nice to live your life phobia free? Well, we can help you, and it’s much simpler than you might think. You may know what the root cause of the fear is, it may be a specific incident that the phobia obviously began with. But often, for example with a fear of spiders, we can’t remember a specific event that started it, the fear has just always been there.

Either way, we can take a specific event or examples of when you have felt really scared of that phobia, and remove the emotional content from the fear. This means that the part of our brain that was reacting to the phobia, no longer sees it as a threat. The technique we use is not unpleasant and usually deals with the phobia in one session. (If it is an isolated fear. Multiple linked fears may require further sessions)

GET IN TOUCH to see how much we can help you. Change is easier than you think.

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