What is a Phobia?

Whether it’s a fear of heights, spiders, flying or something a little more obscure, like not having your phone (Nomophobia is a thing!), phobias are common. A phobias is a specific, intense, often irrational, fear of something that is unlikely to cause harm. The fear experienced tends to be out of proportion to the perceived threat. When you have a phobia you’re likely to avoid the thing like the plague! The problem with that is the fear just intensifies over time and might start interfering in your usual activities.

The list of phobias people can experience is endless, however, the more common phobias can generally be grouped into four main categories:

  • Animals – e.g., spiders, snakes, dogs, birds.
  • Environment – e.g., thunder, water, darkness
  • Situations – e.g., heights, planes, lifts, being alone.
  • Blood, injuries, medical – e.g., injections, medical procedures, broken bones.

Common Symptoms of Phobias

Typical symptoms associated with phobias include:

  • Intense fear or anxiety of some object or situation.
  • Breathlessness
  • Dizziness, trembling, and increased heart rate
  • Fear of dying
  • Nausea
  • Preoccupation with the feared object or event
  • Avoidance of feared object or situation.

In some cases, these symptoms become so overwhelming that the individual may experience a full-scale panic attack.

Self-Management Tips and Strategies

If you have a phobia there are a few things you can do to help yourself:

  • Try not to actively avoid the situation or object
  • Deep breathing techniques when faced with the fear
  • Reducing or avoiding caffeine and other stimulants.
  • Recruit some support from others around you

When can a Psychologist help?

Whilst phobias are common and many people work out how to live with their phobia with little impact on their lives, when a phobia is extreme and interferes with daily function then it might be time to seek some extra support. Psychologists can help you work through the fear and explore underlying causes. They can provide treatment strategies that ultimately extinguish the fear or reduce its intensity to a manageable level. Our team is here to help when you need a bit of extra support in regaining control over your phobia to live your best life. You can book online here, give us a call on (02) 4625 3339 or email us at admin@innerspacepsych.com.au.

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