A phobia is a persistent fear of an object or situation in which the sufferer will attempt to avoid. The danger of the object or situation is often disproportional to the actual danger posed. It is irrational. In the event the phobia cannot be avoided entirely, the sufferer will endure the situation or object with marked distress and significant interference in social or occupational activities.
Some common Phobias are:
Arachnophobia– Fear of spiders
Social Phobia- Fear of social situations
Aerophobia-Fear of flying
Agoraphobia- The fear of wide open spaces, crowds, or uncontrolled social conditions
Claustrophobia-Fear of entrapment in enclosed spaces
Acrophobia- Fear of heights
Mysophobia- Fear of germs
We all fear something, fear is a universal emotion and can be beneficial in certain circumstances. Fear is an adaptive human response. It serves a protective purpose, activating the automatic “fight-or-flight” response. With our bodies and minds alert and ready for action, we are able to respond quickly and protect ourselves.
But with phobias the threat is greatly exaggerated or nonexistent. For example, it is only natural to be afraid of a snarling Doberman, but it is irrational to be terrified of a friendly poodle on a leash, as you might be if you have a dog phobia.
The symptoms of a phobia can range from mild feelings of apprehension and anxiety to a full-blown panic attack. Typically, the closer you are to the thing you’re afraid of, the greater your fear will be. Your fear will also be higher if getting away is difficult.
Signs you may need help overcoming your phobia include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Feeling debilitated or unable to move
- Trembling or shaking
- Racing or pounding heart
- Chest pain or tightness
- Feeling of overwhelming anxiety or panic
- Feeling “unreal” or detached from yourself
- Feeling an intense need to escape
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