Tackling Phobias

An intense irrational fear that causes a reaction to a particular situation, living creature, place, or object that usually poses little or no actual danger is a phobia

Fear is our body’s reaction to a dangerous situation be it perceived or real. Like all human emotions, fear can be healthy if it cautions a person to stay safe around something that could be dangerous.


According to a study conducted by Thierry Steimer, Anxiety is a generalized response to an unknown threat or internal conflict, whereas fear is focused on known external danger. An intense irrational fear that causes a reaction to a particular situation, living creature, place, or object that usually poses little or no actual danger is a phobia. It is important to gauge to distinguish between fears and phobias as the terms are often used loosely.


According to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM-5) Specific phobias tend to cause physical and psychological symptoms like difficulty breathing, feeling dizzy or light-headed, Trembling or shaking, sweating, feeling an intense need to escape, and fear of losing control. The fear, anxiety or avoidance is both persistent (lasting six months or more) and causing clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of life to be diagnosed as a phobia.


To name some of the phobias that have been affecting the youth in recent times are:


Nomophobia- a growing fear in today’s world, the fear of being without a mobile device, or beyond mobile phone contact. If we had to create Abraham Maslow’s theory on the hierarchy of needs the new addition in the physiological needs would be the mobile phone. Not having the phone easily accessible tends to make people often uncomfortable leading to unmanageable anxiety.

Eco phobia- a pervasive worry over environmental degradation eventually leading to the world coming to an end (doomsday) and leading to the fear of dying. (Thanatophobia)

Ipovlopsychophobia — The fear of having one’s photograph being taken. As the number of apps is increasing the worry of being photographed is also increasing to a point where people go to lengths to avoid a situation even where they might get photographed and aren’t ready for it.

Macrophobia- The fear of long waits.


What can one do to overcome these fears? 

Firstly, don’t isolate yourself it is ok to speak to someone about the fears and get some support from friends and family. Secondly, It is important to understand what about that thing or situation causes fear. Don’t deny the emotions related to the fear instead address them by noting down and then educating self about it. 

Thirdly, Put down all the things in a list ranging from least fearful to most fearful. It is important to understand how your system works and gradually exposing oneself to that situation or thing could build confidence and a sense of control. Having a phobia means losing control, when you sense that control may be slipping away, pause, take a breath and check in on yourself. Simple deep breathing techniques, doing a body scan, engaging all the senses could be some of the ways to bring oneself to a calmer state of mind.

Finally, Safe and effective methods of treatments are available which may include therapy, medication, or a combination of both. The treatments depend upon a variety of factors including the symptoms and severity of the phobia, so it is always best to speak to a professional.

Tags assigned to this article:
anxiety disorders


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