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Finding the Best Exclusive Phobia Treatment Center

For decades, filmmakers and writers have used phobias for laughs or for plot points. The man with arachnophobia must walk across a sea of spiders to reach the damsel in distress. The child with a fear of heights must leap down into his mother’s arms to escape the burning building. The woman with a fear of public speaking imagines the crowd rising up as one to pelt her with fruit. It’s an easy situation to poke fun at.

But if you have a phobia, you know that it’s no laughing matter. Phobias can severely interfere with your ability to make friends, hold down a job or even leave your house. And they don’t tend to be problems you can just wipe away with a wave of your hand. Instead, phobias arise from a specific form of mental illness, and you’ll need help to properly deal with those illnesses. This work will be worth it, however. With treatment, you’ll learn to control your phobias, once and for all.

Specific Phobias

According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, specific phobias typically develop unexpectedly during adolescence and adulthood. Something you may have handled with ease when you were young now causes completely paralyzing fear. Even though you might know that the thing can’t hurt you, the fear remains.

If you have a specific phobia, one specific thing has particular sway over you. That thing – be it a person, place, animal or object – strikes fear deep into your heart and you’ll do almost anything to stay away from it. While almost everyone has a dislike for specific things, and almost everyone might avoid the things they don’t like, people with phobias experience symptoms that are completely exaggerated and can be disabling. For example, two women might share a dislike of dogs. One woman was bitten by a dog as a child, so she tends to cross the street when she sees dogs and she may jump with fright if she’s surprised by a dog. The other woman developed a phobia of dogs for reasons she can’t quite explain, and she spends all of her time, when outside, staying alert for the presence of dogs. When she sees a dog, she is completely paralyzed with fear. This woman might avoid walking at all costs as a result. As this little example demonstrates, a person with a specific phobia may have a perfectly natural fear, but the response of that fear is disabling and out of control.

Targets of Fear

People can be afraid of almost anything, but according to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, people with specific phobias tend to focus on:

  • Animals
  • Insects
  • Driving
  • Flying
  • Thunder
  • Elevators
  • Medical or dental procedures

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Social Phobias

If you have a social phobia, the target of your fear might be slightly harder to categorize and avoid. After all, at the core of your phobia lies a deep fear of other people. You may be worried that people will make fun of you, reject you or just watch you make a mistake.

Even though you might know that people don’t really watch you very closely, your mind may try to convince you that everyone you meet and everyone you know is secretly judging you and just waiting to pounce on your faults. The website Mental Health America makes the important point that social phobia isn’t the same as shyness. People who are shy may be uncomfortable with the idea of speaking out in front of others, and they may become nervous in the presence of people they don’t know well, but people with social phobia take this nervousness to a whole new level.

If you have social phobia you might:
  • Lose sleep days before a big meeting takes place
  • Find the act of blushing incredibly embarrassing
  • Refuse to use public restrooms, for fear that others will listen to you
  • Become physically ill at the idea of talking to strangers

These symptoms go far beyond simple shyness. Instead, they can keep you from fully interacting with people altogether. They aren’t symptoms you’re able to just deal with and move on from. In fact, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, social phobias can last for years, or even for a lifetime, unless they’re treated.

Agoraphobia

If you have agoraphobia, you may feel extreme fear when you’re asked to be out alone. You might believe that something terrible will happen, and if no one is with you, the situation could cause your death. Many people who develop agoraphobia have endured panic attacks, a sudden sensation of extreme fear that comes on with no warning and leaves just as quickly. During a panic attack, you might have believed that you would die, and as a result, you might reasonably try to avoid the situation that seemed to bring on the panic attack. There’s just one problem with this plan. Most panic attacks aren’t tied to any place at all. If you have a panic attack on a bus, you might then be afraid of a bus, but the next day, you might have a panic attack while walking. If this situation is allowed to continue, the situations you consider “safe” could shrink and shrink until nothing seems safe at all. Agoraphobia is the result.

Shared Symptoms

While there may be many different types of phobias, the symptoms of phobia tend to be the same, no matter what type you have. If you have these symptoms, it’s time to get serious and talk to your doctor about phobias:

  • An extreme sensation of dread, loathing or fear
  • Rapid heartbeat, sweating or shaking when faced with your phobia
  • Inability to think about anything else when faced with your phobia
  • The knowledge that the terror you’re feeling is very large compared to the threat you face
  • Willingness to change your life to avoid facing your phobia

Source: The American Psychiatric Association

Treatment Types

Dealing with phobia means retraining your mind. Instead of reacting with extreme fear, your brain must be taught to relax, calm down and behave normally when faced with the subject of the fear. Retraining the brain this way may sound incredibly difficult, but you won’t be asked to do it alone. In fact, you’ll have at least one therapist walking alongside you during this process, helping you to learn more and grow stronger.

The Anxiety Disorders Association of America reports that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is helpful in treating people with phobia. This method sounds technical, but it’s completely painless. You’ll just be asked to look at things in a new way, using specific tools your therapist will give you. In essence, a panicked response is immediate. You see something and you’re frightened. Through CBT, you’ll learn to think before you react. When you encounter the object of your fear, you’ll think hard about whether that item really can hurt you. How likely is it that a small spider, with no teeth and no poisonous venom, can really kill you? Is it worth being afraid of? These are the sorts of questions your therapist will encourage you to ask.

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Your therapist might also teach you how to control parts of your body you thought you had no control over. For example, when you’re afraid, a whole chain reaction takes place. You breathe faster, your palms sweat, your heart races. This might all seem completely uncontrollable, but by learning to breathe properly and slowly, you can slow down your heart rate, calm your mind and control your fear.When you know how to control your breathing, and you understand how to take charge of your thoughts, you’re ready to start facing your fears directly, with the help of your therapist. If you’re afraid of thunder, for example, you might watch videotapes of storms and talk through your feelings with a therapist. If you’re afraid of dogs, you might look at a sleeping puppy through a window, talking through your feelings. If public speaking frightens you, the therapist might ask you to stand up and speak during your sessions. Slowly, as you grow more confident, you’ll continue to challenge your fears even more directly.

While some people can conquer their fears through therapy alone, the National Institute of Mental Health reports that some people need medications in order to truly participate in therapy. Antidepressants can help you to sleep better, and think more clearly, and this might allow you to have an open mind that can learn new lessons in therapy. While this medication can be incredibly helpful, taking medications isn’t without risk. In fact, some medications can cause problems if you stop taking them abruptly. Others won’t work unless you take them at the same time each day. Still others must build up in your system, meaning that you may not see results right away. If your doctor chooses to treat your phobias with medications, be sure you understand exactly how they should be taken, and get that information in writing, when possible, so you can refer to it later if you have questions.

Slowing Your Breathing

Your therapist might teach you how to breathe through your abdomen when you’re frightened. It’s a powerful way to take in more oxygen and slow down your racing body. Follow these quick steps to get started:

  1. Place one hand on your belly and one on your chest.
  2. Breathe in through your open mouth. The hand on your belly should rise more than the hand on your chest.
  3. Hold that breath for six or seven seconds.
  4. Exhale through your open mouth, using the muscles in your belly to empty your lungs.
  5. Repeat four times.

Source: The American Medical Student Association

Getting Help

In order to access help for your phobias, you’ll need to meet with your doctor. Describe the fears that you’re having, and be direct in asking for help for those fears. According to the Mayo Clinic, you can prepare for this important appointment by preparing lists of:

  • Situations that make you feel better or worse
  • All the symptoms you feel when facing your fear
  • Everything you’ve tried to do to fix the problem
  • Any stresses you’re facing now, or that you’ve recently endured
  • All medications you take

Your doctor probably won’t be the person who will help you with your phobia, but your doctor will be able to direct you to a therapist that can provide you with the assistance you’ll need. Your doctor can also run blood tests and other physical screenings, just to make sure that there’s no medical problem that could be causing your symptoms.

According to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, only a small number of people who have phobias ask for the help they need. Don’t be part of this statistic. Phobias really can be controlled with the proper help. Make an appointment today.