It is important not to underestimate the debilitating effects of phobias and the frequency of their occurrence. The list of phobias is endless because they can arise from any situation. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that approximately 10% of adults suffer from a variety of phobias. They were also able to shed light on who is most likely to suffer from a phobia the most, women or men? Women experience a phobia more than men. While a phobia is the number one psychiatric illness in women it is number two for men.
Common phobias and Symptoms:
- Arachnophobia: One of the most well-known phobias is the fear of arachnids (spiders and their relatives). Fear and panic occur at the thought, sight, or image of an arachnid.
- Agoraphobia: This type of phobia is the fear of being in a crowd or an open space. This phobia can make it especially difficult for the sufferer to lead a normal life outside of the home. Normal things like going shopping or even holiday events can cause fear and panic.
- Acrophobia: More commonly known as a fear of heights, acrophobia manifests as the avoidance of high or tall places and panic attacks. It causes large amounts of anxiety. Trauma is a possible cause of this phobia.
- Ophidiophobia: This phobia is the fear of snakes. Like the fear of arachnids, it is believed that ophidiophobia stems from our evolution. Other possible causes are through experience, culture, or even stemming from the fear of disease. Disgust is the most common response to the fear of snakes.
- Social Phobias: This phobia is also characterized as a social anxiety disorder. It is a phobia that can be broken down more specifically as well. Social phobias generally revolve around a fear of social situations. Social phobias can be so severe as to cause people to avoid any situation involving communication with other people. They can experience nausea, sweating, blushing, and even full-blown panic attacks.
- Aerophobia: This is the phobia of flying. Those with aerophobia will avoid traveling by plane or helicopter. They may even experience extreme fear and panic attacks at the thought or mention of air travel.
- Cynophobia: This is the fear of dogs. Generally, it is manifested due to previous trauma as a result of frightening or uncomfortable situations involving a dog. Although many people fear dogs, those with cynophobia will feel its impact on their daily life routines. Some may experience the inability to go to any place where they may face encountering a dog.
- Mysophobia/Verminophobia/Germophobia/Bacteriophobia/Bacillophobia: This is the irrational fear of dirt and germs. Those with mysophobia will excessively clean, wash their hands and body, and avoid situations that even seem dirty or be contaminated with germs. It is often related to and may even co-occur with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
- Trypanophobia: This is the fear of needles or injections. Trypanophobia causes those suffering to avoid medical procedures, even in necessary medical situations. Panic attacks and fainting are common symptoms but generally, it is gone unnoticed due to the avoidance by those that suffer.
- Astraphobia/Astrapophobia/Brontophobia/Keraunophobia/Tonitrophobia: Is the excessive fear of thunder and lightning. Humans and animals are known to experience this fear. Those who suffer from it may experience panic attacks, nausea, cry, and seek out additional shelter or hide in a small space.
What is a Phobia?
A phobia is an irrational, exaggerated, unrealistic, and persistent fear. The fear can be of people or animals, an object, or an activity or situation. A phobia is a relative term that can be broken down into three major categories of phobias as seen below.
- Specific Phobias, also known as simple phobias are the most common form of phobias. They are the phobias that are of certain animals, experiences, or environments. Many are genetically formed while some can be trauma-induced.
- Social anxiety disorder is the phobia of social situations. These can be generalized or more specific. They have a tendency to run in families that have experienced public humiliation or many negative events in social situations.
- Agoraphobia phobias are fears pertaining to being placed into a public situation where leaving is impossible or difficult.
Both children and adults can experience phobias. Children experience phobias between the ages of five and nine. Their phobias will generally go away as they age. However, they can carry into adulthood. In other cases, a phobia can develop later in adolescence or adulthood. Many people who experience phobias will acquire them before the age of 30.
What are the Symptoms of Phobias?
Symptoms of phobias can range from physical to mental. Provided below are the common symptoms.
- Persistent fear or anxiety
- Irrational feelings not in proportion to an event, situation, object, or being.
- The avoidance of the phobia due to their acknowledgment of their excessive fear and reaction.
- Anxiety induced physical symptoms:
- Unusual Heart Rate
- Shortness of breath
How Do Professionals Diagnose Phobias?
People that experience phobias will begin by speaking with a doctor and/or mental health professional. The doctor or other medical professionals will ask and discuss symptoms and reactions, experiences, ways of avoidance, trauma history, and family history.
To overcome a phobia, those suffering must first come to understand the origin of anxiety. Once they are able to understand the roots of their anxiety they will need to understand how much of an impact it has on the mind and body.
How Do Professionals Treat Phobias?
Phobias are able to be treated in a plethora of ways from self-help to medication. While self-help may work for simple fear and anxiety, those that suffer debilitating symptoms will be unable to easily manage their phobias. For those with debilitating symptoms will need to seek out more extensive treatment options for their phobia. Listed below are common treatments for phobias:
- Individual Therapy
- Group Therapy
- Family Therapy
Rehab that is effective for phobias requires a safe and spiritual setting and environment. Treatment centers like ours here at Northbound Treatment Services fulfills the necessary requirements, going above and beyond.
Therapy for Phobia Treatment
Psychotherapy for phobias is made up of two categories: Exposure Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT.)
Exposure therapy is essentially the repeated exposure to the phobia itself. The aim of the therapy is to change those suffering from a phobia’s response. The exposure to the feared object, being, or situation will be done under medical supervision at a pace that suits the need. Generally beginning by only thinking about the phobia, then photos of the phobia, and eventually the experience itself.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most powerful tools used to treat phobias. CBT focuses on the way we think about and respond to situations and how that affects our phobias. Generally, there is a cognitive distortion at play in these social interactions that is at the root of the phobia. Addressing these tendencies can lead to the development of normalized thoughts and responses. Using repeated exposure and other techniques those suffering are able to learn to cope with what is feared and change their reaction.
The psychotherapies will eventually help diminish and possibly end the occurrence of panic attacks commonly associated with phobias.
Family and Group Therapy
There are options for the group, family, and individual therapy for phobias. Depending on the person suffering from a phobia different therapy sessions may be used.
Group therapy allows for those with the same phobia to overcome their phobia together. Allowing for the opportunity for those suffering to not feel so alone or ashamed.
Family therapy is especially effective when the medical professional believes that family members are needed to overcome the phobia. The family member or members can possibly be adding to the phobia or with their involvement and support it’ll help those suffering overcome their phobia.
Individual therapy is designed for a constant support system outside the home. It may take far longer in overcoming a phobia than other treatment plans. However, rapport building and working together one-on-one may work best for some.
More About Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
At Northbound, we utilize a combination of individual and group therapies. One of the most powerful tools available for social phobia treatment is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT looks at the way we think about and respond to situations and how that affects our phobias. Generally, there is a cognitive distortion at play in these social interactions that is at the root of the phobia. Addressing these tendencies can lead to the development of normalized thoughts and responses.
CBT will change behavior and responses to situations where anxiety and fear may have been heightened previously. This behavioral therapy will help diminish the panic attacks commonly associated with phobias. Additionally, the staff at Northbound will utilize breathing and meditation techniques to help reduce anxiety. CBT, coupled with a healthy diet and limited use of caffeine and nicotine, can increase the client’s success with managing stress, anxiety, and phobias.
Can Medications Help Treat Phobias?
In more extreme cases, medications are used to help those suffering from phobias. Medications are generally employed for short-term use during the beginning of treatment. The three most common types of medications used for those suffering from phobias are beta-blockers, sedatives or tranquilizers, and antidepressants.
Beta-blockers are a class of drugs designed to block the impact of adrenaline on the body. This allows for the reduction in physical symptoms of anxiety.
Sedatives or tranquilizers can be used to reduce anxiety but only with extreme caution. These drugs are known to be highly addictive and should be avoided if there was a history of substance abuse.
Antidepressants are occasionally used because they impact the neurotransmitters. They are effective in reducing anxiety but do take a longer time period to do their job.
Does Northbound Treatment Services Treat Phobias?
The therapeutic process at Northbound helps clients liberate themselves from fear and normalize their feelings. Because phobias often co-occur with addiction, Northbound takes a comprehensive approach to treatment, addressing both the primary substance abuse and the secondary, or co-occurring, phobia.
Northbound looks to create a lasting and healthy transition while overcoming a phobia. Clients don’t begin behavioral therapy unless the majority of panic-attack symptoms are being managed. This often involves the use of medications discussed above. Medication is found to be the most helpful when an individual with the phobia is delusional or cannot respond to logic. However, Northbound always works with psychiatrists to seek the treatment path that relies as little as possible on the use of medication.
Our professional clinical staff members are aware of all of the treatment options available and discuss these at length with the client and/or the family. Decisions are made with the best interest of the client at heart and take into account personal history, health issues and the severity of the disorder. Considering these options and incorporating them into the client’s individualized treatment plan is an important part of the recovery process, and helps that person take the first steps toward reasserting control over the fears and anxiety that are disrupting his or her life.
As our clients progress through treatment and their moods and feelings stabilize, exposure therapy may also play a part in their treatment. Exposure therapy is a type of psychotherapy that gradually exposes the client to the source of their fear. Forcing the client to face his or her fears while using the relaxation and CBT techniques he or she has already learned may help eliminate the phobia. Difficult, yet effective, exposure therapy is only undertaken when clinically appropriate and in a safe setting.
Allow Us to Help You Today!
Here at Northbound Treatment Services, we strive to offer the best of care for our clients. We understand that each of our patients has specific needs. Treatment should focus on those needs in order to help individuals successfully overcome substance abuse. This is why we work to provide services that address every aspect of our clients’ lives that may be related to addiction.
Some individuals who come to us may be living with the effects of a serious phobia or another type of anxiety. Some may have various mental health disorders. We know that these symptoms and disorders can often cause or worsen addiction. Many people begin to abuse alcohol or drugs in order to cope with the effects of their mental illness. As a result, they may develop substance dependence or addiction problems. Since this may be the case, we will be sure to address any phobia, anxiety, or mental health-related issue in order to help ensure recovery from addiction.
Treatment for phobias does work, but it takes time. Early intervention and continued maintenance allow people to live with their fear as the symptoms slowly diminish. Northbound Treatment Services provides the environment and the tools to begin the process of healing, contact us at (866) 511-2458.