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Dr. Andrew Rynne
MD
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Article Home Adult and Senior Health Phobia

Phobia

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Phobia is an irrational, intense, persistent and disabling fear of certain situations, and activites, things, or people. It?s most common form of anxiety disorder presenting with excessive, unreasonable desire to avoid the feared subject.

 

Causes

  • Phobias arise from a combination of external and internal predispositions.

  • Heredity, genetics, and brain chemistry combined with life-experiences play a major role in the development of anxiety disorders like panic disorders and phobia.

  • Amygdala secretes hormones that control fear and aggression

  • When the fear or aggression response is initiated, amygdala releases hormones releases hormones in the body, to create an alert state as flight and fight responses.

 Common type of phobias and fears

  • Animal phobias- fear of snakes, spiders, rodents, and dogs.

  • Natural environment phobias- fear of heights, storms, water, and dark.

  • Situational phobia- fear of enclosed spaces (claustrophobia), fear of elevators, flying, driving, tunnels or bridges

  • Blood- injection-injury phobia

Agoraphobia

Earlier agoraphobia was thought to involve a fear of public places and open spaces, now it’s believed that agoraphobia develops as a complication of panic attacks or panic disorder.

People with agoraphobia become anxious and develop fear during the situations, where escape would be difficult or embarrassing, or even help would not be immediately available.

Normal fear Vs phobia

  • Fear is a normal adaptive human response to the situation. Fear serves a protective purpose, activating fight or flight response.

  • But with phobias the threat is greatly exaggerated or nonexistent.

 Signs and symptoms of phobia

  • Palpitations or pounding heart

  • Sweating or perspiration

  • Trembling or shaking

  • Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering, and even dyspnea some times

  • Feeling of choking

  • Chest discomfort or pain

  • Nausea and vomiting or abdominal distress

  • Dizziness, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint

  • Derealization (feelings of unreality) Depersonalization (being detached from oneself)

  • Fear of losing control

  • Fear of dying

  • Paresthesias (numbness or tingling sensations especially in finger tips)

  • Hot flushes

Treatment of phobia and fear

Exposure therapy for phobia

  • Also called as systematic desensitization, exposure in a safe and controlled way to the object or situation you fear.

  • The most commonly used exposure therapy involves gradually facing fear-producing object, first in the imagination and then in reality.

Cognitive behavioral therapy

  • Is beneficial, and CBT is done is group settings.

  • Combination of desensitization treatment and cognitive behavioral therapy are often successful, provided the patient is willing to endure some discomfort.

Hypnotherapy with neuro-linguistic programming is used to remove the associations that trigger phobic reaction.