Treatment For Phobias

How Phobias Affect a Person’s Life:

Phobias are quite unbearable and the people suffering from phobia compromise on the quality of their life to a large extent as they are not able to move freely. At the heart of every phobia is anxiety. First and foremost, people have to be able to acknowledge that they have a problem and seek medical and psychological help.

Symptoms of Phobias

  • At the very heart or center of a phobia, there exists anxiety or fear which is not easily explained. There are 3 distinct categories of phobias:
  • An irrational and persistent fear of specific situations or even objects. This could include a fear of animals or insects, fear of heights, flying, being in elevators – this is a very specific phobia.
  • Fear of being in situations where one could be subjected to scrutiny, be questioned or criticized by people – this is referred to as social anxiety disorder and is a non specific phobia.
  • Some people are afraid to be by themselves or even to leave their home. They fear being trapped as well – this is categorized as agoraphobia.

A medical professional can help to determine if the phobia is one which restricts a person’s lifestyle which involves going to work or even social interaction. If the answer is yes, it is time to get treatment. There are many good therapeutic tools and medications which can be used together to lessen anxiety. Some are even useful in diminishing or removing the fear altogether.

Treatment Options for Phobias

Phobias can never be completely cured – therapy helps people to function effectively. Some therapy tools include desensitizing, biofeedback, graded exposure to events and flooding. One can attend clinics and support groups – specific phobias can be successfully helped with desensitization and relaxation techniques.

A therapist will use guided imagery to help people to overcome their fear of flying or being in enclose spaces. Familial support and help from friends helps immensely in the process as well especially when people with social phobias are gradually exposed to many more social situations. Some tools used here are rehearsing and role playing.

People with agoraphobia are introduced very slowly into new areas and situations which likely induce anxiety. Patients are encouraged to take baby steps with a trusted person by their side and eventually learn to cope in social situations.

Are Medications Necessary?

Again this depends on the severity of the problem – a therapist is well trained in evaluating cases and will prescribe medication on and as needed basis. Medications are usually used in the first part of the treatment and eventually tapered off and then behavioral modification techniques are also taught. Some medications that get prescribed during the course of treatment are antidepressants like Paxil, Zoloft and Lexapro. These help really well for people with social phobias. A class of drugs called MAO inhibitors are also very effective but come with side effects.

What to be Aware of:

Some of the medicines can cause anxiety if the dosage is not correct, if it is increased very quickly or people quit using them. It is always a good idea to start low and increase dosage as needed. Relaxation techniques like visualization and affirmations, biofeedback methods and breathing techniques help people to relax and have lower anxiety levels during and after treatment.

People should be patient and aware of the fact that overcoming fears and phobias take time. By taking small steps and enlisting help from professionals, most people lower their anxiety levels and even move beyond their problems.