A phobia is a feeling that persists for more than six months. Fear is a normal physiological reaction of the human body. Nobody is fearless. But, if anxiety constantly occurs in certain places or situations, causing severe difficulties in life and disrupting daily activities, it can be a phobia.
A phobia is a fear that cannot be controlled. It is persistent and out of proportion to the real threat, there. A person understands that there is no need to be concerned. But no matter how many times you tell him or her that you will not do anything harmful, it will not make him or her feel less afraid.
What causes a phobia?
Some phobias are embedded in us genetically – resulting from evolution and a protective mechanism. That is why many people worry about the dark, failure, blood, etc. – because it is a potential danger to life.
But most phobias arise in childhood (if you are terrified of something, then this fear can remain for a long time), and in adulthood, this happens less often. Phobias sometimes arise as a result of psychological trauma or traumatic events. For example, you are likely to develop a phobia if a dog has bitten you.
Why does fear or traumatic events sometimes become phobias and sometimes not?
Modern science has several explanations for this based on qualitative research. First, this is connected with humanity’s historical past and those periods when we had to respond instantly to environmental changes to survive.
The ancient brain structures learned to react instantly to a threat. Therefore, if we are afraid of something incomprehensible in childhood, the brain considers it a threat – and remembers it.
If you explain to the child what happened, the cause and consequences of anxiety, and trauma, the phobia will not form. The cortex of the large hemispheres, responsible for rationalization, eliminates stress causes. What do people fear the most?
- These are phobias related to animals (zoophobia) and insects (insectophobia);
- Natural phenomena – thunder and lightning (astraphobia), wind (acrophobia), and sea (thalassophobia);
- There are also phobias regarding medical manipulations (e.g. trypanophobia – fear of injections);
- Social phobias are also associated with shyness, insecurity, and fear of the public;
- There are also situational phobias – the fear of elevators, airplanes (aerophobia), tunnels, or heights (acrophobia).
How to get rid of a phobia?
Due to the expectation that you will have to survive further attacks of fear, the probability of their recurrence only increases. Sometimes ordinary self-help and advice are enough to forget exaggerated worries. Several strategies can help overcome a phobia.
Strategy 1. Stay in motion
Regular activity and relaxation exercises can reduce the fear response over time. They help in acute cases because, due to physical exertion, the relaxation of the body and its exhaustion are psychologically poorly connected with the reaction of fear.
But during a panic attack, the positive effect can decrease. If panic-induced hyperventilation occurs, doctors recommend breathing into a bag to normalize the oxygen and carbon dioxide ratio in the blood again.
Strategy 2. Fight with fear
You can get rid of fear by going through it. For someone who avoids a situation or an object due to exaggerated fear, it will be more helpful, on the contrary, to meet them face to face.
Only then will you be able to ensure that nothing terrible will happen. It requires considerable willpower. You need to understand what most people fear and meet with anxiety.
Strategy 3. Self-control
Fear flares up when the fear of a particular situation is added to the fear of fear itself. Such thoughts feed disorders. The constant fear of anxiety increases the likelihood of a panic attack.
The main reason: people become very stressed and pay more attention to possible symptoms. Meditation and reading books can help develop self-control.
Do phobias make life difficult?
Phobias can sometimes disable a person. That is, to limit life and activity to such a level that a person refuses any contact with the world and is constantly thinking about the objects of his phobias.
He or she assumes the most incredible scenarios of their appearance or communication with them. Phobias of failure are widespread. People are often afraid of becoming losers.
Sometimes people do not notice how much such a phobia affects their lives. To start fighting your worries in time, read self-help books and other educational materials like a sample essay on failure and learn real stories from human life.
For example, a person with childhood anxiety about failure probably will not make friends, leave the house, be afraid to make acquaintances, and be insecure. Other people’s stories can show that you are just one of them suffering from loss. It happens to almost everyone.
How to treat phobias using relaxation and meditation techniques
Phobias and fears can significantly complicate life. One should overcome it. And the first step to overcoming is to recognize and acknowledge fear. Then, learn relaxation and meditation techniques to cope with irrational fears. In any case, you cannot self-medicate – if you have a phobia that significantly affects your life, it is best to contact a psychotherapist.
Cognitive behavioral therapy
One of the most effective ways to treat phobias is through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). It aims to combat conscious and unconscious negative beliefs and attitudes that lead to increased anxiety, neuroses, panic attacks, and other disorders. The psychotherapist doing CBT with you also develops a system of exercises to deal with new episodes.
Psychotherapy can also be combined with medication. Medicinal treatment is indicated in severe cases, in particular, to reduce emotional stress. Anxiety and fear are the body’s normal reactions to actual non-standard events.
But if the fear constantly arises in certain places or situations and causes severe difficulties in life, it can be a phobia. Recognizing this, recognizing your fears, and seeking help on time are essential.
So, getting rid of the phobia can be challenging. You can ask for help from friends and relatives. A phobia can ruin a life, so don’t turn a blind eye to your worries. To make life more enjoyable, it is worthwhile to research what people are most afraid of and learn from them. You can counter the objects of your phobias in many ways.