John Forsyth and George Eifert described in the book titled, “The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety: A Guide to Breaking Free from Anxiety, Phobias, and Worry Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy” the true essence of fear experienced with phobias and anxiety alike. They stated,
“More deeply you may know, with absolute certainty, that anxiety has brought ruin to you and your life. You may feel frustrated and exhausted. You may feel broken, damaged, and at your wit’s end. You may think something is wrong with you. And you are looking for a way out.”
Perhaps this is how you’re feeling right now. If you have a phobia, you likely know that you have an irrational fear towards something – whether it be social situations, trains, spiders, or something else, but you can’t help but to make each decision in effort to avoid facing whatever it is you’re fearing. This impending fear takes over your thoughts, decisions, interactions, and at times, your physiological responses – feeling as though your mind and body have quite literally been “hi-jacked”. You’re not alone; an estimated 19.2 million Americans have a specific phobia, with many having several phobias.
A 2015 study titled, “Spider or No Spider? Neural Correlates of Sustained and Phasic Fear in Spider Phobia” confirmed that in phobic patients, significantly higher amygdala activation was present when presented with an image of their phobic fear; the amygdala is an almond-shaped structure in the middle of the brain’s temporal lobes that controls automatic responses to fear, arousal, and emotional stimulation. While exposure therapy has proven successful for many people, those that do not find success may be using mental safety precautions – such as dissociation – to protect themselves, not allowing the exposure to disconfirm any pre-existing negative beliefs they had. If you experience this, speak with your treatment center to make subtle changes to your treatment regime. Most often, treatment involves a variety of techniques to determine what works best for you – medication, psychotherapy, group therapy, and other complementary forms of treatment may be used to help you overcome the fears that have been holding you back.
Your phobia does not define you, and it does not have to take control over your life. Make the decision to seek the help you need today.
Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment to develop the tools you need to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, call us today at 888-958-7511 for a consultation. It’s never too late, and there are people here ready to help you.