Phobias can be debilitating for the many people who experience them. The symptoms of phobias go beyond feeling a bit uncomfortable or scared of something. We often hear people talk about being afraid of spiders and heights, which are very common phobias. But sometimes people have more intense phobias that interfere with their quality of life. Agoraphobia and social phobia are two types of phobias that prevent people from completing daily tasks. Fortunately, there are therapies available for the treatment of phobias. Cognitive behavioral therapy is most often used to treat phobias either alone or in combination with other therapies.
In treating a phobia, be sure to seek the help of a mental health professional who has specific experience or expertise in the area.
Flooding Your Fears
Flooding is a form of exposure therapy that exposes a person to their fear for specific amounts of time. Exposure therapy is facilitated by a clinician who supports you at each stage as you are introduced to stimuli. The goal of exposure therapy is to change your response to the object or situation you fear. For example, if you have agoraphobia or fear of certain places, your therapy may consist of thinking about going to that place. Then, you may look at pictures of that place, followed by going near that place. Ultimately, your clinician will ask you to physically be in that space. Success in this treatment means that you realize these objects or places cannot hurt you and your fear gradually subsides.
You may be familiar with the psychological concept of conditioning, or training your brain to respond to stimuli in a specific way. This is what counter-conditioning therapy aims to do. Rather than responding with fear or anxiety when confronted with the phobia, you will be taught relaxation techniques to help control your response. After a while, you will be “conditioned” to respond without fear. Counter-conditioning therapy is often used for those who cannot handle exposure therapy.
Are There Medications for Treatment?
There are many techniques for dealing with phobias. Sometimes, if the phobia is severe and does not respond to other therapies, a clinician will suggest medication, such as beta-blockers. These drugs block the stimulating effects of adrenaline, such as increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, pounding heart, and shaking voice and limbs that are caused by anxiety. A clinician may prescribe sedatives but medication-based treatments are often used as a last resort and only deal with the physical symptoms of anxiety caused by exposure to a phobia.
Untreated phobias can have a significant impact on your life. Fortunately, there are a number of approaches to help you manage debilitating fears. The treatment you receive will depend on your specific needs. At Avalon Malibu, we tailor our treatment models to ensure our patients are getting the best care to ensure sustained recovery and an improved quality of life. Located on the coast of Malibu, California, Avalon specializes in treating patients living with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders. We offer a continuum of care that supports you at every stage of your recovery. Our experienced and compassionate staff work closely with you to ensure you are prepared to return to the community able to overcome challenges and lead a successful and sober life. If you or a loved one suffers from a phobia, please do not hesitate to call us (844) 857-5992.