A phobia is often described as a strong, persistent, and unwarranted fear of a specific object or situation. Most people can relate, to a greater or lesser extent, to at least one or more phobias. At the extreme end of fear the consequence for a person confronted by their fear is great anxiety or even anxiety attacks. The person with a phobia is all too aware of what is going on and they know their reaction is extreme. At one level they fully understand how odd it looks to other people and they know their behavior is different to most people who don't share their fear. At another level however their fear and emotions override all logic when they are exposed to the thing they fear most.
All phobias are associated with anxiety. The most common physiological symptoms include raised heart and breathing rate, sweating, shortness of breath, tightness in the throat and chest and nausea. Psychological symptoms include a fear of fainting or of losing control, fear of dying and a sense of disorientation and confusion.
Phobias represent the most common mental disorder in the United States and agoraphobia is one of the most common of these. Interestingly, many people who experience panic attacks go on to develop agoraphobia. This is understandable because the person worries that they may panic in situations where escape is difficult or help isn't readily available. The fear of fainting, losing control over bodily functions, or of displaying excessive fear in public, is very common.
Social phobia, that is, an intense fear of being judged or evaluated in social situations, and agoraphobia are considered complex phobias. This is because they usually involve various interlinked phobias that have disruptive effects on people's lives. People with social phobia often feel so vulnerable that it most forms of social contact aren't possible.
By contrast, a specific phobia is an intense fear of some object or situation. Specific phobias are classified into animal, natural environmental, blood/injections, situational and ‘other'. Blood phobia has the unique quality of being the only phobia directly associated with fainting. It is estimated that around 70 percent of people with blood phobia faint when exposed to blood.
The most common way people cope with their phobia is to avoid the situation or circumstances that cause their anxiety. Not surprisingly, real-life practice associated with relaxation is a key focus of therapy when treating the various types of phobia.
Published On: June 03, 2011