A human body is a complex machine that evaluates different situations, reacts and responds to it accordingly. From an instant response of our reflex action, to the meticulous responses of our immune system, we can see a variety of ways in which our bodies respond in various situations.
One such natural response that signals and prepares our body to deal with a situation that is unsafe or dangerous is known as Fear. It is a normal human survival instinct that we are bestowed with since our childhood. Different people experience fear at different levels in the same situation. It could range from mere uneasiness to a strong reaction in a particularly dangerous situation. Fear triggers our body’s natural fight or flight response, during which we either stay and confront that situation or flee from it.
The process begins when adrenal glands release excess adrenaline into our blood stream, surging the blood supply to larger muscle groups, such as arms and thighs, and curtailing supply to less important functions like digestion and metabolism. This prepares us to either fight or take a flight from the situation.
Experiencing fear in situations that jeopardize our safety is very much normal and natural. The problem starts when this fear is exaggerated and blown out of proportion and turns into a Phobia. A phobia is extreme and persistent fear of an animal, object, or any particular environment that interrupts a person’s daily functioning. It is natural and normal to be afraid of a ferocious dog, but abnormal to be scared of a small puppy or an innocent bird. A phobic person does his utmost to avoid all such situations or objects of which he/she is afraid of.
Genetic component or certain childhood experiences of a person could cause phobia. It is accompanied by sheer anxiety and uneasiness. A person becomes completely absorbed in thinking about the worse possible outcomes of being in the situation of which he’s fearful about. This obsessive and compulsive worrying disrupts a person’s normal functioning.
There is a long list of phobias. Some of them are:
- Claustrophobia: Fear of tight spaces
- Hydrophobia: Fear of water
- Arachnophobia: Fear of spiders
- Ophidiophobia: Fear of snakes
- Nyctophobia: Fear of darkness
- Acrophobia: Fear of heights
- Aviatophobia: Fear of flying
Apart from the above-mentioned, there are many more. The physical symptoms accompanying phobia include shortness of breath, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, sweating, shakiness, nausea, etc. One should timely sought professional help in order to get his/her phobia diagnosed and treated.
In 75% phobic cases, Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) helps in regards to specific phobias. Systematic Desensitization is helpful, in which a phobic person is slowly and gradually exposed to the fearful situation, object, or animal. Repeated exposure and interaction helps the phobic person to overcome his major fear. The idea is to inculcate sense of control over that situation, object, or animal. A time comes when a person reacts normally in presence of that fearful stimulus.
Hypnotherapy also helps in overcoming phobias in which a certified hypnotherapist conducts certain therapeutic methods. Apart from these, relaxation techniques including deep breathing, muscle relaxation, positive self talk and imagination, and mindfulness are imparted to the phobic person. At times, medication can also be prescribed along with these techniques. The right treatment allows a person to live a happy and functional life.