Understanding phobias

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Show of hands – who isn’t afraid of anything in this world?

The world can be a scary place, and it’s common to have a fear or fears – rational or not – about something. Perhaps you are terrified of heights, creepy crawlies or open water. Perhaps, and for reasons you’re unsure of, the thought of visiting the dentist strikes fear into your heart and makes you want to run a mile.

However, if the fear you are experiencing is debilitating, or getting in the way of you living a full and happy life, it may be time to talk to someone who can help.

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Where does fear end and phobia begin?

A phobia is an intense fear of something that, in reality, poses little or no actual danger. So what is the difference between fear and phobia? Feelings of fear are very common – phobias are not so much. Phobias are a form of anxiety disorder and are characterised by intense and irrational fears of an object or situation that poses no real threat.

Common phobias 

Common phobias and fears include closed-in places, heights, highway driving, flying insects, snakes, and needles. However, we can develop phobias of virtually anything. Most phobias develop in childhood, but they can also develop in adults.

There are three main phobia classifications, that may resonate with you.

1) Social Phobia (often termed social anxiety) – Social Phobia occurs when individuals fear certain social situations.

2) Agoraphobia – Agoraphobia is the fear of being trapped in an inescapable place or situation. It is also commonly associated with claustrophobia (the fear of having no escape and being trapped in a tight space).

3) Specific phobias – Specific phobias are the fear of certain objects or situations.

  1. Natural environment – individuals may be fearful of thunder and lightning, water, strong winds, etc.
  2. Animal – individuals may fear animals such as spiders (arachnophobia), snakes (ophidiophobia), rodents, etc.
  3. Medical – some individuals fear the sight of blood, visiting the dentist, receiving needles, etc
  4. Situational – individuals can fear situations such as driving, flying, leaving home, etc.
What can I do? 

Understanding your phobia is the first step to overcoming it. It helps to know that phobias are highly treatable. You can overcome your anxiety and fear, no matter how out of control it feels.

At MyMind, our team of mental health professionals can help if you are suffering from anxiety as a symptom of your phobia. Call us at 076 680 1060 or email us at hq@mymind.org to talk to a member of our team. You can book your first appointment within 72 hours, face to face at one of our four centres or online

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