Fears & Phobias

Fear of heights

We all have situations or things that we are afraid  of, or feel uneasy about, such as going to the dentist, making a public speech, or seeing a large dog.

This is seen as a fairly normal response, and in some cases helpful. Not all dogs are friendly! Mild stage fright before performing produces a better performance.

But when the fear becomes out of proportion, or difficult to handle, or is irrational, it is called a phobia. The result is sudden anxiety and panic only being relieved by the removal of the thing or leaving the situation.

There are certain phobias that we can live with by simply adapting our lives to avoid the situation such as flying or heights.

But if the phobia causes us to alter our lives drastically, and starts to affect other areas of our lives, it then becomes a problem. If it impacts our lives severely, it may affect our health and cause anxiety and depression.

Phobias may develop literally to any object or situation. Some phobias may seem quite bizarre and ridiculous, but to the person concerned they are real, and for this reason people may hide the phobia and adjust their lives accordingly. But there will always be a reason why it has developed.

There are many ways that phobias develop. Arachnophobia – a fear of spiders – is common, and may run in families, as at a young age, the child learns the behaviour from a parent who suffers from it. Phobias that develop later in life may be triggered by a stressful event. For example, an employee may have to attend a stressful meeting once a week, on the top floor of the building, only accessed by the lift. This may result in the subconscious producing a fear of lifts. The employee then has a reasonable excuse for not attending the meetings. In this case, the underlying cause has to be addressed otherwise the subconscious will produce another excuse!

It is not unusual for people to feel uncomfortable in certain social situations, at parties, or in large groups. This is termed a social phobia, a fear of what may happen in a social environment, in front of other people, spilling your drink, blushing or trembling. The reason for smoking may be driven by an underlying fear of social situations. 

Lastly, there are panic attacks, which are the sudden feeling of fear for no reason. It is perpetuated by the fear of having a panic attack. The fearful thoughts of the possibility of having a panic attack in itself produces a panic attack. It is literally a fear of fear. 

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