Phobic Disorder: Symptoms and Help
According to Medscape, a phobic disorder is classified as a psychiatric illness. Hallmarked by abnormal irrational fears and avoidance of everyday situations (2017). Unfortunately, they are not preventable, but there are a lot of treatment options for those who suffer from phobias. Phobic disorder will always involve persistent anxiety that is attached to some form of external stimuli or situation. Such as traveling in cars or on planes or setting foot in hospitals. When an individual has a phobic disorder, they will be able to recognize the situation that is causing them anxiety. But does not feel like they can control it and therefore will avoid it instead.
Types of Phobia
Phobias themselves are quite common, are considered predictable and relatively harmless to other individuals. These anxiety symptoms that stem from these phobias are generally broken down into three sub-categories. These include agoraphobia, social phobia, and specific phobia.
- Agoraphobia. A well-known condition which is all about the avoidance of situations that are inescapable. Essentially, it is the fear of being alone in public places or places where a rapid exit is unavailable. When an individual has agoraphobia, they are susceptible to panic disorders and panic attacks.
- Social Phobia. This is generally self-explanatory in that it is when anxiety is induced by social situations. It is a persistent fear of a situation where embarrassment can occur, either from saying something wrong or performing wrong. In order to be diagnosed with a social phobia, the anxiety that persists much be clinical.
- Specific Phobia. A common anxiety disorder that is defined by a specific object or situation. Examples of specific phobia can include being in a certain natural environment like thunderstorms, or not wanting to be around specific animal types like dogs, or it can be situational, like not wanting to use elevators or escalators.
These disorders are actually quite common, with severity ranging anywhere from unobtrusive to mild, to severe where it impacts work, travel and social interactions. A phobic disorder is formed, and often linked to traumatic experiences and learned reactions. If a child is a bitten horribly by a dog when they are very young, they may develop a specific phobia to dogs when they are older. Also, if a child’s parents always react with fear to certain situations, then that can transfer over to the child as learned behavior.
Common symptoms that one might experience are excessive sweating, high blood pressure, anxiety/extreme fear. Plus feeling an intense need to escape, churning stomach, chest pain, dizziness, rapid heart rate, shortness of breath. It is almost always the case that the individual knows that they are reacting excessively or severely but cannot control the fear. Helplessness takes over rationale in the situation.
How is Phobic Disorder Treated?
- In terms of psycho-therapeutic treatments, social anxiety disorders are treated with computer-based exposure training. With combination therapies, hypnotherapy and cognitive behavior therapy.
- For specific phobias, this can be treated with cognitive behavioral therapy, desensitization, and breathing control techniques. Exposure therapy has also found to be an effective treatment.
- For agoraphobia, relaxation and breathing techniques are used as well as combination exposure therapy.
So whilst it’s no easy ride, there are ways you can take back control and not let phobic disorder dictate your life.
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