Click HERE to learn more about accessing these services from the comfort of your home via telehealth.
Encountering certain obstacles or situations may leave one frightened, such as being in the dark, ascending heights, or seeing potentially dangerous animals. Many of us are able to remain calm, rationalize the situation, and find a way around it. However, this doesn’t work everyone. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 10 million adults live with some kind of phobia that make managing anxiety extremely difficult.
What is a phobia?
The American Psychological Association defines phobias as intense and intrusive fears that result in significant distress. Individuals with this condition have an anxiety response that quickly becomes out of proportion to the actual danger posed by the source of the phobia. These individuals may experience feelings of unease that can accelerate into panic quickly, hypervigilance and compulsive behaviors, or limit their activities to avoid the source of the phobia. Usually, these tactics only make the phobia more severe, and the individual's life becomes more limited and fear driven.
Types of phobias
Though hundreds of unique phobias have been identified, they tend to fall into one of four categories.
- Natural Environment--lightning, water, tornadoes
- Animals--dogs, snakes, bacteria
- Mutilation/Medical Treatment-- needles, the dentist, blood
- Situations--flying, riding elevators, public spaces, small spaces
Therapists help treat phobias using behavioral and somatic (body-based) therapies. With cognitive behavior therapy, clients practice thinking about and responding to their fears in more helpful ways. On the flip side, somatic techniques and holistic approaches like yoga or mindfulness help soothe the physiological response to intense anxiety. For severe phobias, medication might be an option to help reduce the intensity of the anxiety enough for the therapist and client to work on the root of it.