You can learn to live your life in spite of your phobia. You are stronger than your fear, and it does not have to control you.
Like other anxiety disorders, phobias can seem like nothing at first. Many people get nervous during turbulence on a plane, or overwhelmed in a busy social setting. But when those feelings start to affect your life on a daily basis, there’s something else at play.
Do you have a phobia?
A phobia is a persistent, irrational fear of an animal, person, object, or situation. The object of the fear is something that has very little chance of causing real harm.
When you see the source of your phobia, it creates feelings of intense panic. Sometimes those feelings manifest in physical symptoms like elevated heart rate, trouble breathing, dizziness, or shaking. These reactions feel out of your control, and only occur when you’re faced with the source of your fear.
Phobias can take many shapes, but some of the more common types are:
If you have one of these phobias, you likely go out of your way to avoid the object of your fear. As your fears increasingly impact your life, you may wonder if they are actually a phobia.
For example, if you have a phobia of flying, you may avoid it to the point of not attending important events. Or if you have a fear of heights, you might always take the stairs instead of the elevator, or avoid buildings with elevators entirely.
With most anxiety disorders, there is often a desire to work around it, ultimately ignoring the disorder itself. This reaction makes the anxiety more and more powerful in your own mind. And reaching out for help may concern you.
Counseling for phobias - What is phobia counseling?
In fact, phobias are very common, and very treatable. Similar to other anxiety disorders, first your therapist will confirm a diagnosis, based on your specific symptoms.
Treatment generally involves cognitive-behavioral therapy, sometimes in addition to medication. Cognitive-behavioral therapy involves exposure and response prevention (ERP) and cognitive therapy.
Similarly to treatment of OCD, cognitive therapy is used to teach you new, healthy ways to think about your fears. And ERP is used to slowly change the way you respond to those fears when they present themselves. It involves facing your fears, instead of avoiding them.
This process will always be done at your own pace, with small and controlled steps. For example: if you’re scared of heights, the first step may be to just think about getting in an elevator, without being anywhere near one.
Slowly but surely, your mind will start to process your fears in a way that is manageable, and doesn’t negatively affect your daily life. Though this may take some time, it is absolutely possible for you to overcome your phobia. And we will help you reach that goal.