A phobia is a type of anxiety. It is a strong, irrational fear of something that poses little or no actual danger. In some cases phobias become so excessive they interfere with day to day life.
Phobias are largely under-reported, probably because many phobia sufferers find ways to avoid the situations they fear. Phobias are fairly common. In fact, it is estimated that 28 out of every 100 people have a phobia. Women tend to be twice as likely to suffer from a phobia than men.
There are many specific phobias: acrophobia is a fear of heights; agoraphobia is a fear of public places; and claustrophobia is a fear of closed-in places. If you become anxious and extremely self-conscious in everyday social situations, you could have a social phobia. Other common phobias involve: tunnels, highway driving, water, flying, animals and blood.
People with phobias try to avoid what they are afraid of, if they cannot, they may experience:
- Panic and fear
- Rapid heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- A strong desire to get away
People with severe phobias may find brief psychotherapy helpful. But, phobia sufferers can also take steps themselves to overcome their fears by:
1. Talking about their fears,
2. Refraining from avoiding situations they find stressful,
3. Imagining themselves facing their fears (visualization), and
4. Making positive self-statements like, “I will be OK.”
In fact, when self-help approaches are combined with brief psychotherapy, people with phobias may achieve significant improvement in symptoms.
If you have a phobia and would like to address your fears, contact one of the iTherapy counselors.