Treatment in Specific Phobias: Conquering the Fear


What is phobia and how phobias affect our life?

The unreasonable, excessive fear of situations and objects other than social phobia and agoraphobia is called specific phobia.

The most common specific phobias are fear of flying, fear of heights, animal phobias, fear of blood and injury, fear of thunder and storm, fear of being alone, and fear of closed space.

According to psychoanalytic theory, phobias arise from a conflict between the target of sexual or aggressive impulses and the danger posed by their realization.

Learning theory treats phobias as behaviors learned through conditioning. The Little Albert case is typical of this.

The role of familial transmission in specific phobias and the fact that living beings are born instinctively prone to fear of certain situations and objects are also known facts. Many phobias can be seen without ever encountering that situation or object or learning that it is harmful.

Phobias, which are 2.5 times more common in women than in men, are among the most common psychiatric disorders. The most common type of phobia is specific phobias, especially fear of airplanes and animals.

Although specific phobias are in the first place among mental disorders, the rate of seeking treatment is very low. Many patients who manage to avoid specific phobias, which are considered a temperament or personality trait among the public, can survive without the need for treatment with successful avoidance tactics. The patient with airplane phobia can deceive himself by saying I love automobile travel and can manage for years without entering airplane.

Some fears are noticed late because they have never encountered that phobic environment yet. The fear of heights of someone who has always sat on the garden floor may arise in their newly moved 12th floor flat, or a young submarine assigned to military service may discover for the first time his fear of staying indoors.

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@quantum_visions a dark hallway which can trigger claustrophobia

Coexistence of specific phobia-major depression reaches 25%.

When faced with a phobic object or situation, symptoms such as heart palpitations, rapid breathing, chest tightness, tremors, sweating, dizziness, fainting are observed in real fears.

In fear of flying, the patient may experience panic attacks inside the plane.

The onset of specific phobias goes back to childhood and adolescence. However, many of these fears do not extend into adulthood. It is easy to get rid of phobias if parents become a fearless role model in unnecessary fears, encourage and support their children to address their fears.

Treatment in Specific Phobias

In treating specific phobias such as airplane phobia, animal phobias, and fear of heights, informing the patient and their relatives about the disease is the first step of treatment. It should be ensured that the patient and the family see the phobia as a disease, the personality structure, temperament, and the message that it is not a situation that should not be caught in the head. If it is known that the treatment is quite simple, easy and permanent, the patient’s motivation will be higher. An individual whose freedom of travel is restricted for years due to airplane phobia can overcome all fear quickly.

The most effective method in the treatment of specific phobias is behavioral therapies. The basis of the treatment is the patient’s confrontation with the distressing situation, i.e., his fear. This situation will increase the level of distress at first and cause anxiety. It is very important that the doctor and the family try to support the patient at this stage.

In the treatment of specific phobia, drugs are not as effective as other anxiety disorders. It may be beneficial to take a short-acting benzodiazepine before a flight, especially in airplane phobia. If depression accompanies phobia, antidepressant drugs should be used. In some psychiatric studies, it has been observed that EMDR treatment also improves specific phobias.

treatment in specific phobias: conquering the fear 2
@boma.story a high bridge which can trigger acrophobia

Behavioral therapy is the first option in specific phobia treatments, especially for airplane phobia. The training technique is also the main method of behavioral therapy. These techniques have the same effectiveness in individual and group therapies. Increasingly, the encounter with the feared situation is ensured, and if the phobic environment is sufficiently maintained, the fear gradually decreases. It is a confrontation with the feared situation or object for a long enough time that leads to recovery. Very brief encounters with the phobic situation may further deepen the fear.

Adding cognitive methods to behavioral therapy, which is indispensable in specific phobia treatments, increases success. It is possible to bring irrational thoughts about the feared situation into reality with cognitive therapy.

In the treatment of specific phobia, it is possible to get results with behavioral therapy under 10 sessions in most cases. Blood and injury phobia and animal phobias can be cured in 1-2 sessions. 4-5 sessions are usually sufficient for the treatment of airplane phobia.

The patient’s active role in behavioral therapies, compliance with exercises and performing homework will increase the treatment’s success.

You should take specific phobias that can negatively affect your daily life seriously, and you should not poison your life for many phobias that can be solved in a single session.

Last Updated on November 30, 2021 by William Lindberg

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About Author

He is studying psychology in Canada. Lucas also volunteers helping elderly people in nursing homes. Lucas, who is especially interested in hypnotherapy, continues his education and research in this field.

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