The potential to become phobic exists in every person – every individual goes through an irrational fear of some event or situation and eventually outgrows it. It is common knowledge now that phobias and psychological disorders are closely linked, especially depression, anxiety disorders and substance/drug abuse. If neglected or left untreated, phobias will eventually lead to serious disorders. Here is an in depth look at how phobias become debilitating disorders if they are not addressed in a timely manner.
Social Phobia: This manifests as an intense fear or loathing of social situations. This happens to a lot of people who are shy to begin with – they are also very sensitive to their surroundings. Most people experience this to some degree or another – for instance, public speaking or as stage fright. In others, it is so bad that they shun away social activities. This does get resolved spontaneously in some but for others, it gets worse with time. When the fears become worse, they become agoraphobic and they have very little social contact. This can lead to depression and drug abuse.
Agoraphobia: People who have this problem are afraid of being alone and having a panic attack. People who have panic attacks can become agoraphobes, but the disorder can occur on its own as well. Agoraphobes have a number of different fears – they are fearful of driving, don’t like being in crowds and are even afraid of leaving their homes. Left untreated, these folks just get worse and eventually become totally housebound. This causes loneliness and total isolation which then leads to depression and drug abuse.
Specific Phobias: These phobias do not follow a specific pattern and also don’t lead to other disorders. People are usually normal and experience a scary event sometime in their lives – like being bitten by a dog. This leads to avoidance of the situation or the object in question. Of course, it can become pretty severe over time and difficult to treat as well.
People with phobias usually respond well to medication and therapy. A combination of both is even more successful in tough cases. The more severe the phobia, the longer the treatment cycle. With persistence in the case of the patient and good tools and medications by the physician, many people go on to live fear and phobia free lives. Some even learn to manage their conditions well enough to be functional and live fairly normal lives.