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Common phobias and treatment: An overview

Common phobias

Of the many mental health issues that plague people, perhaps the most misunderstood are the numerous phobias. For people who don’t suffer from them, these fears seem completely irrational. Why be so afraid of something that can’t do you serious harm? They try to use logic to explain to their phobic friends why they should not be afraid. But to the sufferers, the fears are all too real. Even knowing that it is a phobia is not enough to prevent excess anxiety. Here are some common phobias and treatments.

Common phobias

It is important to identify the specific phobia you suffer from. It’s easy to understand the general source of the fear, but to pinpoint it and learn its name, you should see a therapist or take advantage of online mental health services. Knowing exactly what causes extreme anxiety is the first step in treating it. Some common phobias are:

  • Claustrophobia – This is a fear of tightly enclosed or crowded spaces. It could be small rooms or walk-in closets. Some people feel claustrophobic in the back seat of a car.
  • Agoraphobia – The opposite of claustrophobia, agoraphobia is the fear of open spaces. In extreme cases, the sufferer may not even be able to leave their house.
  • Arachnophobia – The fear of spiders is so intense that the anxiety is more than the actual danger presented by the object. The fear can be triggered by seeing a spider in person, picture, or even thinking about one.
  • Aerophobia – Fear of flying. This phobia goes beyond the common anxiety many people feel during flights. It’s a serious fear that can keep them from ever boarding a plane. It may not be a problem until distant travel is required.

Methods of treatment

There are several ways to treat a phobia that generally involve a combination of therapy and medication. Exposure therapy is often used and can be very effective.

This involves gradually desensitizing yourself to the object or situation you fear. In so doing, you reprogram your mind not to experience fear.

You begin by thinking about what scares you. This is a good way to get a toe in the water and can be done online or via in-person therapy. Taking small steps, you eventually work up to confronting the source of your fear. Some therapists will also recommend anti-anxiety drugs during the process.

Virtual reality to treat common phobias

A more recent type of treatment that utilizes modern technology is virtual reality. Originally developed for gaming, VR has found a place in treating mental health issues.

It works by placing a set of goggles and headphones on the user. Almost any type of situation can be simulated with the user feeling as if there are actually there and experiencing it.

The immersive quality of VR transports gamers into the world they are playing in. It’s also used to simulate travel adventures.

For treating phobias, VR can be very effective. The patient can be placed virtually in a scary situation, such as a doctor’s office that triggers anxiety, or around objects that are feared to allow desensitization. The simulation can be instantly stopped if things get too intense and the exposure can be small at first and advanced as needed.

Concluding words

As anyone who has a phobia can tell you the fear can be paralyzing. But you don’t have to suffer.

Help is available and new and effective treatments have been developed. You can even get therapy online without leaving the comfort of your own home.

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