Getting Over Your Phobias
In our last blog, we examined the troubling mental health issue of phobias. In the past year, over 9% of American adults suffered from some sort of phobia and more than 12% will experience a phobia at some point in their lives.
To recap from last week's content, let’s summarize what we learned about phobias. A phobia is a fear of a specific thing, person, or event that causes anxiety and avoidance so great that it disrupts the function of normal life. Various phobias include social phobia (fear of going out into social situations), thanatophobia (fear of death and dying), and even globophobia - a fear of balloons popping.
There are more, in fact the list of phobias people experience seems to be endless. It’s a form of anxiety disorder which over 18% of Americans suffer from. Left untreated it could lead to problems at work, home, and in one’s social life. But luckily, phobias are treatable like any other anxiety disorder. It just takes persistence, compliance, and some old fashioned hard work.
How to overcome phobias
The cause may vary whether it’s a childhood trauma, a random manifestation of anxiety, or a triggering event later on that affects our psyche - but the signature of phobias is the same. It’s essentially a strong concentration of anxiety aimed at one specific stimulus.
So we know what phobias are and how they affect our mental health. This week let’s examine a few ways to confront the problem and overcome our fears.
Exposure - This is a therapy used often with obsessive-compulsive sufferers as well (OCD is another anxiety based disorder). We gradually expose ourselves to the situation or thing that we’re phobic of, whether it’s getting on an elevator or walking outside or popping a balloon.
Start small. Go one floor in the elevator, take a two minute stroll down the sidewalk, or simply keep a full balloon next to a needle or two. Next time take things a bit further. Two floors, 5 minutes walking, and one balloon pop. Eventually your mind will become more flexible and tolerant of the fears.
Flooding - This technique is more for mild phobias where jumping into a confrontation with their fears. People who respond well to this technique are usually more “all-in” types who will go straight to the elevator and ride it up and down ten times, or walk down the street for two hours, or pop every balloon in sight right away.
This immersion can help some people quickly overcome their phobia but in other cases it may lead to distress. This technique should only be tried with professional guidance.
Reach out to friends - Sometimes having a trusted companion who understands our problem is just the thing we need to help us make it past our fears. The presence of a friend or loved one can help us put things into a new perspective and give us the motivation and confidence to do the hard work we need for recovery.
They can provide emotional feedback. After going through a hard experience, talking it out afterwards can frame things in a way that moves things forward productively and positively.
Sometimes there are support groups a sufferer can join to help them meet other people going through similar problems and relate to a larger group.
Is it time for help?
Severe phobias can lead to panic attacks and disorders which may send someone to the hospital. In these cases it’s best to reach out for professional mental health treatment which may include therapy, medication management, and a regimen designed to aid a timely and substantial recovery.
If you’ve reached your wits end about a specific phobia and you can’t overcome it yourself, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Here at Bregman Medical Group we have decades of experience treating many disorders and phobias. For online treatment right to your device schedule at www.bregmanmd.com or call 305-740-3340. In person appointments are also available.