What Are Phobias?
Phobias are persistent, irrational fears of certain objects or
situations. Phobias occur in several forms; the fear associated with a
phobia can focus on a particular object (specific
phobia) or be a fear of embarrassment in a public setting (social
phobia). People who have phobias are often so overwhelmed by
their anxiety that they avoid the feared objects or situations.
Specific phobias involve a fear of an object or situation, such as
small animals, snakes, closed-in spaces, or flying in an airplane.
Social phobia is the fear of being humiliated in a social setting,
such as when meeting new people, giving a speech, or talking to the
boss. Most people experience these fears with mild to moderate
intensity, and the fear passes. For people with social phobia, however,
the fear is extremely intrusive and can disrupt normal life, interfering
with work or social relationships in varying degrees of severity.
How Common Are
Approximately 4 to 5% of the U.S.
population has one or more clinically significant phobias in a given
Specific phobias occur in people of all
ages. The average age of onset for social phobia is between 15 and
20 years of age, although it can often begin in childhood.
Traumatic events often trigger the development of specific
phobias, which are slightly more prevalent in women than men. Research
shows that social phobia may have a hereditary component and occurs in
women and men in equal proportions. However, men may seek treatment for
social phobia more frequently than women.
What Treatments Are
Available for Phobias?
Social phobia can be effectively treated with medications
including, MAOIs, SSRIs, and high potency benzodiazepines. People with a
specific form of social phobia called performance phobia have been
helped by drugs called beta blockers. There is no proven drug treatment
for specific phobias, but certain medications may help reduce
symptoms of anxiety before one faces a phobic situation. A type of
cognitive-behavioral therapy known as "exposure therapy" is
also a very useful treatment for phobias. It involves helping patients
become gradually more comfortable with situations that frighten them.
Relaxation and breathing techniques are also helpful.
Can People with Phobias Also Have Other
Physical and Emotional Illnesses?
People with phobias, particularly social phobia, may also have problems
with substance abuse. Many people with social or a specific phobia
become so anxious that they experience panic attacks, which are intense
and unexpected bursts of terror accompanied by physical symptoms. As
more situational panic attacks occur, people with phobias may take
extreme measures to avoid situations where they fear another attack
might happen or where help would not be immediately available. This
avoidance, similar to that in many panic disorder patients, may
eventually develop into agoraphobia, an inability to go beyond known and
safe surroundings because of intense fear and anxiety. Appropriate
diagnosis and treatment of other disorders are important to successful
treatment of phobias.
and Remedies][Holisticonline.com Home]
Holisticonline.com is developed and maintained
by ICBS, Inc.
Send mail to: email@example.com with
comments about this web site.
Copyright © 1998-2007
All Rights Reserved.