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Phobia Treatment

Phobia is a Greek word which means feeling nervous and fearful. In medico-psychological parlance, phobia means a persistent, abnormal, irrational and extreme dislike, aversion or fear, despite the awareness that the situation or person triggering the fear is not dangerous. Since the fear is irrational, the person tends to usually avoid it without offering any reasonable explanation.

Probably every one of us has experienced different levels of phobia at one time or another from an object, person or a situation. Going on a first date or delivering a public speech causes that butterflies-in-the –stomach feeling. Quite a large majority of children feel shy of going to school on the first day. Most of us feel nervous in the company of strangers and refuse to attend meetings or parties with them. It is believed that some 13% of the people in the Western world suffer from this condition at some point of time in their life

When phobia becomes intense and starts interfering with daily routine, it acquires medical characteristics of anxiety disorder.

The emotional signs and symptoms of the anxiety disorder include:

  • intense fear of the unknown situations,
  • strange  people and being noticed by them,
  • facing judgments,
  • embarrassment and
  • humiliation and so on.

The physical signs and symptoms of the anxiety disorder are

  • blushing,
  • sweating profusely,
  • trembling,
  • nausea, 
  • feeling churning sensation in the stomach,
  • tension in the muscles,
  • confused thinking,
  • change in heart beat,
  • diarrhea and so on.

Based on these sings and symptoms, phobia can be treated efficaciously through a combined approach of cognitive behavioral therapy called psychotherapy, medication, meditation and some other simple physical exercises including breathing.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy or cognitive behavioral therapy has proved to be an effective way of treating the anxiety disorders. Psychotherapy approach is based on the assumption that we, behave, act and respond to persons, objects and situations on the basis of our thoughts and ideas. If we can somehow change the way we think and give our attitude a positive direction, we can control our anxiety disorder syndrome to a large extent. Cognitive behavioral therapy may also include exposure therapy wherein a person is gradually made to face the situations that he fears most. For example if you have chosen to be a salesman and cannot face people or convince them for your goods, a guide accompanies you on your door to door campaign and helps you talk with people. Sometimes situations are simulated and you are made to act roles that you are actually afraid to play in your routine activities. This training helps you to become better skilled at coping with this and similar anxiety generating situations. You develop confidence to face them with your honed skills

Another way to treat phobia is to adopt biochemistry approach. Researchers are of the opinion that an imbalance in serotonin, a brain chemical and a neurotransmitter, could be a factor in anxiety disorders. Serotonin can help in regulating the moods and emotions and many other similar mental states.
Psychotherapists also attribute the cause of phobia to a structure in the brain called amygdala. People with overactive amygdala may have a heightened fear response. Medications to control amygdala may reduce the phobic response.

Some of the common medications approved by the Foods and Drug Administration are Paroxetine (Paxil, Paxil CR), Sertraline (Zoloft) and  Venlafaxine (Effexor). They are anti-depressants and can reduce the anxiety levels.

Besides these there are several other medicines such as benzodiazepines and propranolol (Inderal LA, Innopran XL).  While the former works quickly, it can be addictive and therefore advised for short term use, the later is a beta blocker which works by blocking the stimulating effect of epinephrine (adrenaline). Some of these medicines are sedatives while others may reduce the heart beat, blood pressure, pounding of the heart and shaking voice and limbs. They should be taken under the medical advice. Some of these medicines may have to be taken over the years to prevent the relapse.

Speak to one of our Qualified Psychologists or Counsellors to help you overcome your phobia.

Or simply have a chat to our Online Counsellors

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Quotes from the team at Phobias:

There are two steps in solving a problem.  Believing you can solve the problem and solving the problem.  Once you have established belief you are more than half way there.

You may not always find happiness from your actions, but you will never find happiness from inaction.

 

 

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