Everyone is afraid of something. Some, however, have phobias, an extreme fear of an object, place, thing, or person that can cripple their ability to function in certain situations. Phobias are a type of anxiety disorder that most people will experience at least once in their life.
How Many People Have a Phobia?
Phobias are rooted in long-term feelings, not short-term emotions like worry or fear. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates approximately 9.1% of people over 18 had a phobia within the past year. The NIH also found that about 12.5% of the U.S. population will have a phobia. Some of the most common phobias are:
- Glossophobia – the fear of public speaking
- Arachnophobia – the fear of spiders
- Myctophobia – the fear of the dark
- Sociophobia – the fear of crowded areas or socializing
Those with phobias often know their fear is irrational, and the source of their fear is of little to no danger to them. However, they still have extreme feelings of fear or anxiety. For example, acrophobia, the fear of heights, may keep someone from climbing a flight of stairs. Oddly enough, this same person may have no problem hiking the peak of a tall mountain.
What Are Causes of Phobias?
Phobias most often begin when a person is a child or a teenager. While the causes of specific phobias are unclear, there are theories about why a person has a particular phobia.
Many phobias are the result of an adverse event in a person’s life. For example, a previous panic attack or traumatic event connected to an object or event can create an overwhelming sense of anxiety. A person’s genetics or learned behaviors can also cause a phobia, such as a fear of dogs because their parent was afraid of dogs.
Symptoms of a Phobia
People with phobias avoid what scares them. However, if they are in a situation where they can’t avoid fear, the following symptoms can occur:
- Fear or panic
- Increased heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- A desire to flee
- Shuddering or shivering
How to Overcome a Phobia
Overcoming a phobia takes time. Treatments including individual therapy and sometimes medication can help a person overcome their fear.
While in therapy, a therapist can ask a person to expose themselves to what they fear for short periods. The therapist may also request a person to:
- View their fear as a way to gain self-knowledge.
- Participate in exercise to refocus the mind on activity, not the source of anxiety.
- Find humor in a situation to decrease feelings of anxiety associated with the phobia.
Therapy helps you face and understand your phobias. Your therapist will help you learn ways to cope with your anxiety while teaching you to treat yourself with kindness. Avalon Malibu provides comprehensive mental health treatment, including holistic therapies to help soothe the mind, body, and spirit. In addition, we here at Avalon Malibu treat each person with both the compassion and the respect they deserve. To learn more about treatment for phobias, please call Avalon Malibu today at (844) 857-5992.