Edna Crowell

What do chins, ghost cows, and the color white all have in common? Each of these things that I mentioned can create an anxiety so deep in some people that they can be classified as phobias. In the dictionary a phobia is considered “an inappropriate sense of anxiety brought on by the exposure to a specific situation or object”. Truthfully there is a difference between a fear and a phobia. There are also categories in which you can separate them. Many treatments that are offered do help people to overcome their senseless anxiety. A phobia of flowers may seem strange to some but to others it’s more terrifying than being in a plane crash or losing a loved one.

Fears and phobias operate on two different levels. Fears are more rational feelings of anxiety where as phobias are overly exaggerated and made out to be far worse than they actually are. Many share the ideas that fear and phobias are the same thing. Research today tells us a different story. If you have a fear of spider’s maybe it’s because you were bitten and had to go to the hospital. If you hold arachnophobias then you don’t have a reason to be scared, you just are scared.

There are three different types of phobias. First you have the simple phobias; there is agoraphobia, and lastly you the social phobia. Simple phobias usually occur in children; they are fairly mild and can be grown out of at an early age. They run under the phobias such as: spiders, needles, airplanes, and heights. Agoraphobia is the fear of feeling trapped or unable to escape. Often times they feel uncomfortable in big crowds or enclosed spaces like a bus. It usually starts in adolescents and can continue into adulthood. Statistics show that six in ten people who seek counseling suffer from agoraphobia. Social phobia is an extreme fear of social situations. The people who have this type of phobia have feelings of isolation. They feel that others are being critical of them and show little confidence. Social phobias can carry into late adulthood effecting potential relationships, dooming the person to a life of loneness.

The symptoms can vary from phobia to phobia, but in general victims suffer from:
Speedy heart pace
A choking sensation
Feeling faint
Tension headaches

When such feelings occur, anxiety towards an object or situation only aids in escalating the phobia.

As far as causes are concerned that can depend on the phobia. No one is really sure what it is that brings phobias about. Many argue that genetics play a key role while others say it all depends on the situation; the never ending debate of nature verses nurture. Phobias that are inherited tell us a lot about the human mind. For instance, if your mother is scared of spiders you may develop a phobia and become deathly afraid of spiders for the rest of your life. Some people believe that we carry inside us a basic instinct, or survival gene that our ancestors used to escape from predators or a dangerous situation.

Treatments can range depending on the severity of the phobia. Each technique works best, depending on the type of phobia you have. Self-help or facing your fear works well on specific phobias. Just seeing that your phobia won’t harm you helps out people greatly. Behavioral therapy has been known to be more effective on specific phobias. Here sessions take place one on one with someone who is trained to deal with phobias. Social phobias are better treated with cognitive behavioral therapy. This therapy exercises your phobia in a public type of exposure. Medicine is only used in extreme cases that cannot be controlled with therapy. Usually it’s treated with anxiety medicines, beta-blockers, and antidepressants.

Before this research paper I had no idea of the difference between a fear and a phobia, or even how they are broken down into different groups. The symptoms seem as endless as the phobias themselves. Even though phobias are a common problem in today’s society it’s an easily treated dilemma. With all the different types of phobias it seems amazing that we can accommodate for all of them.source

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