,,Fear and panic – like most emotions – should be seen as adaptative responses. They may be unpleasant on experiential level, but they have as base function preparing and our defence against danger.” Ness, 1990
Newspapers and TV broadcasts are full of tips on how to control your fears, how to manage your anxiety. But your fears had exceeded the bearable limit and became a real obstacle in your life. Marked and persistent fear determines you to avoid objects or social situation that cause you anxiety. Even if you realize that your fear is unjustified and it has conditioned your life in some way or another, avoidance seems to be the simplest solution.
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Find out if it is an independent disorder if it is a disabling symptom in a complex mental illness!
The following information should assist you in better understanding the nature, causes and consequences of phobias.
Phobias generally fall within the realm of anxiety disorders and have several forms, such as agoraphobia, social phobias, or specific phobias.
AGORAPHOBIA is a fear of open spaces such as large, uncovered, public areas. This phobia is also sometimes present in panic disorders.
Symptoms of agoraphobia include:
- An aversion to places or situations where escape may be difficult or embarrasing, or a fear of being alone ;
- Isolating or confining themselves or being overly dependent on those close to them.
If a person suffers from agoraphobia as a subset of a panic disorder, it may induce panic attacks. Signs of a panic attack include:
- excessive sweating ;
- dizziness ;
- dyspnea (shortness of breath) ;
- enitroza ;
- faintness ;
- chest pain or discomfort
- difficulty in swallowing ;
- increased heart rate ;
- nausea or abdominal discomfort ;
- confusion ;
- numbness ;
- fear of losing control or going crazy.
Complications of agoraphobia:
- depending on the severity of symptoms, agoraphobia may limit or make it impossible to have a normal activity outside the house ;
- in the absence of therapy or/and drugs, some become dependent on their families to carry out their activities ;
- Some resort to drugs or alcohol to relieve their symptoms.
SOCIAL PHOBIAS – Otherwise known as social anxiety, social phobias consist of a persistent and intense anxiety or excessive self-consciousness present in social interactions or circumstances in which people feel observed, negatively evaluated, judged or criticized by others.
There are two subtypes of social phobias:
- generalized social phobias, where symptoms occur in any and all social situations, without exception;
- social phobias related to performance, where symptoms only occur in particular social situations which require performance such as participation in an important public event.
Symptoms of social phobias related to performance include:
- persistent fear of a given social situation or performance ;
- manifestations of anxiety can sometimes cause panic attacks;
- avoiding a given social situation or performance in a manner that interferes with one’s personal or/and professional activities;
- physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, sweating, difficulty speaking, trembling, etc.
SPECIFIC PHOBIAS – An irrational, excessive and unjustified fear in the presence or in anticipation of meeting with a specified object, animal or situation such as spiders, blood, dogs, heights, elevators, etc.
- focusing on potentially negative consequences related to the situation or object (airplane crash, dog bite, car accident) or fear of losing or being out of control;
- excessive, persistent, or unwarranted fear due to the presence or anticipation of a specific object or situation;
- feelings of anxiety which lead to one avoiding the feared situation or object;
- exposure may trigger a panic attack.
We describe the following subtypes of phobias:
- Animal phobias: fear caused by a particular animal or insect that is usually onset during childhood;
- Natural environmental phobias: fear caused by components of the natural environment such as storms, heights or water, usually onset during childhood;
- Blood/needle/injury phobias: fear caused by seeing or visualizing blood, wounds, medical procedures or surgery;
- Spatial phobias: fear related to public transportation, tunnels, bridges, elevators or and open or closed spaces;
- Other: fear caused by other stimuli than those listed above.
Some of the most common specific phobias encountered:
- Acrophobia – fear of heights
- Aerophobia – fear of flying
- Agoraphobia – fear of enclosed spaces
- Aichomophobia – fear of painted objects
- Algophobia – fear of pain (or odynophobia)
- Arachnophobia – fear of spiders
- Claustrophobia –fear of being in narrow or enclosed spaces
- Ereuthophobia – fear of blushing
- Erythrophobia – fear of red color
- Glossophobia – fear of public speaking
- Hematophobia – fear of blood
- Necrophobia – fear of dead things
- Nosophobia – fear of having a specific disease (or pathophobia)
- Nyctophobia – fear of darkness or night
- Osmophobia – fear of smells or odors
- Photophobia – fear of light
- Stenophobia – fear of narrow things and places
- Toxicophobia – fear or hatred of strangers r foreigners
- Zoophobia – fear of animals