Symptoms and Diagnosis of Phobias

Phobias are irrational fears of any situation, objects or even animals. These fears can persist in spite of the fact that the person is in no real danger. The brain plays a crucial role in anticipating any threat to survival – this fight or flight response in some people is always high.

Common Phobias:

Phobias can be categorized as a sort of anxiety disorder in which people feel anxious all the time and even have panic attacks when they come into contact with the object of their fear or even the situation. About 10% of the population is affected by phobias and some of the common ones include:

  • fear of medical procedures
  • animals/reptiles/insects
  • enclosed spaces
  • flying
  • heights
  • storms – thunder and lightning

Symptoms of Phobias:

When a person comes in contact with or is exposed to the situation/object, it causes them to react anxiously or even panic. The fear is so strong that the threat is perceived as real – one can sweat excessively, have trouble controlling their reactions and react physically. Their heart rate also goes up. Phobic people go out of their way to avoid situations which cause anxiety and this can interfere with living a normal life. It also results in a loss of self esteem, a job and even lack of a social life.

How to Get Diagnosed:

In case of problems, it is a good idea to consult a physician about this issue. A physician will take a detailed history about the problem including a description of the behavior not just from the person with the issue but also family and friends. Some sure signs include, high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, sweating, possibly tremors as well.

There are other conditions with symptoms that mimic those of people suffering from phobias. Anxiety attacks, heart problems, asthma, hyperthyroidism and hypoglycemia are some health conditions with which people can have almost the same symptoms. A full physical checkup can help the doctor to figure out what the problem is and determine treatment methods based on results.

Possible Methods of Treatment:

The ultimate goal is to help people to get over their phobias and function effectively. The fact also remains that success of any treatment method depends on the severity of the condition. A two pronged method is usually adopted in treating people with severe phobias.

Antidepressants and anti anxiety medications are used to relieve anxiety and other symptoms in people suffering from severe phobias. Once the medications take effect and patients are calm enough, they can work with a psychologist on modifying behavior. Desensitization is one technique used to treat phobias – there are several behavior modification techniques which used in tandem with drugs for long lasting benefits. Some other things that a person can do to reduce the intensity of phobias are:

  • exercising regularly
  • sleeping well
  • cutting down on caffeine intake – it can be found in some medications as well and stimulants like energy drinks
  • eating regular and well balanced meals

There are several clinics which offer group therapy – check for one in your area. One can also join a support group and make new friends as well. Most people go on to live fulfilled lives after conquering their problems.