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Anxiety: What Are Phobias?

Jul 18, 2008
A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder. It is a strong, irrational fear of something that poses little or no actual danger. There are many specific phobias. Acrophobia is a fear of heights. You may be able to ski the world's tallest mountains but be unable to go above the 5th floor of an office building. Agoraphobia is a fear of public places, and claustrophobia is a fear of closed-in places. If you become anxious and extremely self-conscious in everyday social situations, you could have a social phobia. Other common phobias involve tunnels, highway driving, water, flying, animals and blood.

People with phobias try to avoid what they are afraid of. If they cannot, they may experience:

* Panic and fear
* Rapid heartbeat
* Shortness of breath
* Trembling
* A strong desire to get away

One common phobia is social phobia. As mentioned, social phobia, is diagnosed when people become overwhelmingly anxious and excessively self-conscious in everyday social situations. People with social phobia have an intense, persistent, and chronic fear of being watched and judged by others and of doing things that will embarrass them. They can worry for days or weeks before a dreaded situation. This fear may become so severe that it interferes with work, school, and other ordinary activities, and can make it hard to make and keep friends.

While many people with social phobia realize that their fears about being with people are excessive or unreasonable, they are unable to overcome them. Even if they manage to confront their fears and be around others, they are usually very anxious beforehand, are intensely uncomfortable throughout the encounter, and worry about how they were judged for hours afterward.

Social phobia can be limited to one situation (such as talking to people, eating or drinking, or writing on a blackboard in front of others) or may be so broad that the person experiences anxiety around almost anyone other than the family. Physical symptoms that often accompany social phobia include blushing, profuse sweating, trembling, nausea, and difficulty talking. When these symptoms occur, people with feel as though all eyes are focused on them.

Social phobia affects about 15 million American adults. Women and men are equally likely to develop the disorder.

A specific phobia is an intense fear of something that poses little or no actual danger. Some of the more common specific phobias are centered around closed-in places, heights, escalators, tunnels, cats, highway driving, water, flying, dogs, and injuries involving blood. Such phobias aren't just extreme fear; they are irrational fear of a particular thing. You may be able to ski the world's tallest mountains with ease but be unable to go above the 5th floor of an office building. While adults with phobias realize that these fears are irrational, they often find that facing, or even thinking about facing, the feared object or situation brings on a panic attack or severe anxiety. Specific phobias affect an estimated 19.2 million adult Americans and are twice as common in women as men.

What treatments are available besides medication?

Stress Management
Stress management techniques and meditation can help people with anxiety disorders. It can help calm you down. There is preliminary evidence that aerobic exercise may have a calming effect. Since caffeine, certain illicit drugs, and even some over-the-counter cold medications can aggravate the symptoms of anxiety, they should be avoided.

The family is very important in the recovery of a person with an anxiety disorder. Ideally, the family should be supportive but not help perpetuate their loved one's symptoms. Family members should not trivialize the disorder or demand improvement without treatment.

If you find that you are stressed out and cannot sleep because of your phobia, aromatherapy maybe another option. In aromatherapy, inhalation, topical application, massage, and baths are the principal methods used to introduce essential oils into the body. Through these methods essential oils work to improve health. For example, research is starting to confirm lavender's sedative qualities. It's been found to lengthen total sleep time, increase deep sleep, and make people feel refreshed. It appears to work better for women, possibly because women tend to have a more acute sense of smell.

The only way to get over your fears, is to accept them, and try to challenge your fears. Unless they are phobias, which are more pronounced, you should be able to do this yourself.
About the Author
Sherry Harris is the author of the successful e-book "Best Practices Guide: 101 Amazingly Simple Ways to Beat Insomnia". It was created to be The Definitive Guide of insomnia treatments on the Net. You can download the FREE PDF e-book or click on the link. After you grab your free e-book, visit the rest of the website http://www.ScentToSleep.com where you will find products to wipe out insomnia.
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