An extreme fear of and avoidance of a certain kind of thing or event are typical characteristics of a specific phobia. Unlike social anxiety, there is no fear of embarrassment or humiliation in social situations. The fear reaction, however, may be brought on by exposure to the feared object or event.
The anxiety and avoidance are severe enough to disrupt your daily activities, relationships, or employment and to significantly bother you. A specific phobia can give you a lot of anxiety even while you are aware of its absurdities.
The most well-known specific phobias are listed below.
This indicates a dislike of dogs, bees, rodents, spiders, bats, and other animals as well as fears about them. The majority of phobias begin in childhood and are sometimes mistaken for common phobias. They will be regarded as phobias that are specific to you if they persist through maturity, interfere with your everyday activities, or create significant stress.
Acrophobia (Fear of Height)
When you have acrophobia, you frequently fear being on top of mountains, hills, or elevated bridges as well as the high floors of buildings. In these circumstances, you could have vertigo (dizziness) or the temptation to jump, which is typically seen as an outside force pulling you toward the edge.
The fear that the cables would break and your elevator will crash down or become stuck, trapping you inside, could spark the phobia. You could develop anxiety attacks while having no prior history of agoraphobia or panic disorder.
Most frequently, people are afraid of a plane crash. In other situations, it can be the worry that the cabin would eventually collapse. Recently, concerns about bombings or hijackings of aircraft have been widespread. You can experience an anxiety attack when flying.
In other situations, you don’t have a history of panic attacks or anxiety disorders. One of the most common forms of anxiety is a fear of flying. About 10% of people never fly, while another 20% experience severe anxiety when in the air.
Dental or Doctor Phobias
This may start with a phobia of painful medical procedures (such as injections or having your teeth filled) carried out in a dentist’s office by a doctor. After that, it can expand to any procedure requiring the assistance of a dentist or doctor. You may avoid doctors even in the case of urgency due to this fear.
Phobias of Thunder and Lightning
Thunder and lightning fears typically start in childhood. They are labeled as specific phobias if they last through adolescence.
This phobia is distinct because, in the event of exposure to blood, or even your own pain from injections or an unintentional injury, you are more likely to faint (rather than panic). People who fear blood injuries are typically in good physical and mental condition.
Disease Phobia (Hypochondria)
The phobia is normally linked to the fear of getting sick or eventually suffering from a certain disease, like cancer or a heart attack. When you have a disease phobia, it’s typical to ask your doctor for assurances and stay away from anything that reminds you of the terrifying disease.
Around 10% of people experience specific phobias. However, only a small portion of people with specific phobias seek therapy because they don’t necessarily cause substantial impairment.
These phobias affect both men and women equally. Women are more likely than men to have phobias connected to animals, while men are more likely to have phobias relating to diseases.
Women are often twice as likely as males to report having a specific phobia, but this may be due to differences in who seeks treatment.
Specific phobias are generally fears from childhood. They may sometimes appear as a result of conditioning or distressing events like accidents, natural disasters, illnesses, or dental visits. Childhood influences are another factor. Children may develop some phobias after repeatedly observing a parent who has them.
Symptoms of Specific Phobias
An extreme and continuous fear of a specific thing or event, which might result in anxiety symptoms, is referred to as a specific phobia. The symptoms may also be brought on by a stimulus’s anticipation. A person who displays signs of anxiousness may be experiencing:
- Fast heartbeat
- Higher blood pressure
- Chest pain
- Speedy speech or inability speak
- Dry mouth
- Upset Stomach
- Shaking or trembling
- A choking sensation
Treatments for Specific Phobias
Some of the therapies for panic, such as panic-control therapy, interoceptive desensitization, and medication, are typically excluded since specific phobias typically do not cause spontaneous panic attacks.
Regular abdominal breathing and deep muscle relaxation exercises are used to lessen anxiety symptoms that arise from both the actual phobia and from worrying (anticipatory anxiety) about having to deal with the phobic circumstance.
Fearful ideas that tend to feed a specific phobia are questioned and replaced.
For instance, the question “What if I panic because I feel trapped on an airplane?” would be swapped out for more practical and encouraging ideas like “While I may not be able to leave the airplane for two hours, I can move around, such as getting up from my seat to use the restroom several times if necessary.
There are many coping mechanisms I can use if I’m feeling worried, including abdominal breathing, talking to my spouse, listening to a soothing song, and, if required, taking medicine.
You can also use phrases like “This is a thought that is not real and is not true” and “This is an idea that I have dealt with previously and I’m ready to do it in the future” to help you cope. These coping mechanisms are used repeatedly until they become ingrained in daily life.
It usually needs small, incremental actions to gradually approach the frightening circumstance.
For instance, the fear of flying can be overcome in stages, starting with imagery alone (imagery desensitization), moving on to watching planes take off, boarding a grounded plane, taking an hour-long flight beforehand, and eventually taking a long flight. You would be guided through the processes by support professionals before attempting them by yourself.
You will require real exposure to conquer some phobias that are difficult to overcome. For instance, if you are afraid of earthquakes, cognitive therapy and exposure to fictitious earthquake situations will be the main components of your treatment (or watching films that focus on earthquakes).
To sum up, specific phobias are typically benign disorders, particularly in the early stages when they are a common fear in childhood. Even though it can last for years, it seldom becomes worse and frequently gets better with time. It is frequently unrelated to any other mental illness. Specific phobia sufferers frequently perform exceptionally well in all other areas.