PHOBIA

People who have phobias are extremely afraid of certain objects, people or situations. There is no reason for the person to be afraid but he or she is anyway. Phobias are a form of anxiety. Seeing or thinking of the cause of the fear can cause severe anxiety. It can also cause a panic attack.
The phobia is out of the person’sconscious control and could interfere in his /her ability to lead a typical life.

Common Phobias

    • Agoraphobia: fear of being in an open place like the beach, a park or a street.
    • Social phobia: also known as social anxiety disorder.
    • Specific phobias, which are sub-divided into
      • Animal type: fear of dogs (Cynophobia), snakes (Ophidiophobia), spiders (Arachnophobia), ets.
      • Natural environment type: fear of thunder, lightning, heights, water
      • Blood injection type: fear of blood and syringes
      • Situational: fear of a certain places, such as bathrooms and elevators
      • Claustrophobia: The fear of enclosed or tight spaces. Severe claustrophobia can be especially disabling if it prevents you from riding in cars or elevators.
      • Hemophobia: Fear of blood or injury. A person with hemophobia may faint when they come in contact with their own or another person’s blood.
      • Arachnophobia: Fear of spiders.
      • Cynophobia: Fear of dogs.
      • Ophidiophobia: Fear of snakes.
      • Nyctophobia: Fear of the nighttime or darkness. This phobia almost always begins as a typical childhood fear. When it progresses past adolescence, it’s considered a phobia.
      • Other types: fear of certain types of individuals, such as clowns, or certain types of objects such as rings or dolls.

Symptoms

      • Avoiding the feared object, activity or situation
      • Seeing a picture of the feared object could start an extremely fearful reaction
      • Hearing someone talk about the feared object could start an extremely fearful reaction
      • Seeing something that resembles the feared object could start an extremely fearful reaction. For example, a person with a phobia of snakes could have a panic attack just by seeing a snake-shaped necklace
      • Being unable to have a typical life because of the intense fear that he or she is experiencing.
      • In children, other symptoms could include crying excessively, screaming, clinging to adults and having temper tantrums.

Social phobia is also known as social anxiety disorder, and its main symptoms are:

      • Being very scared of speaking in front of others
      • Being very scared of being embarrassed when speaking with others
      • Just thinking about speaking in front of others could start a panic attack (for example, right before a class presentation)
      • Being excessively self-conscious (that is, worrying about how one looks or dresses)

For some children with phobias, the classroom can be a very scary place. A child with claustrophobia (fear of small spaces) may not like being in a classroom with the door closed. A child with agoraphobia may be scared of not being able to get out of the classroom in case of an emergency. A child with social phobia may be scared that the teacher will ask him or her to answer a question in class.

The most common and disabling symptom of a phobia is a panic attack. Features of a panic attack include:

        • pounding or racing heart
        • shortness of breath
        • rapid speech or inability to speak
        • dry mouth
        • upset stomach or nausea
        • elevated blood pressure
        • trembling or shaking
        • chest pain or tightness
        • choking sensation
        • dizziness or lightheadedness
        • profuse sweating
        • sense of impending doom

Age of Onset

Mean age of onset was 24 years. Sixty-five percent of cases began in the 15–29 age group. Ninety-six percent first started before age 40 years.

Causes

        • Genetic and environmental factors can cause phobias. Children who have a close relative with an anxiety disorder are at risk for developing a phobia. Distressing events such as nearly drowning can bring on a phobia. Exposure to confined spaces, extreme heights, and animal or insect bites can all be sources of phobias.People with ongoing medical conditions or health concerns often have phobias. There is a high incidence of people developing phobias after traumatic brain injuries. Substance abuse and depression are also connected to phobias.

Treatment

Treatment for phobias can involve therapeutic techniques, medications, or a combination of both.

        • Medication – Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can help calm both emotional and physical reactions to fear. Often, the combination of medication and professional therapy makes the biggest difference.
        • BehaviouralTherapy :It focuses on stimulus exposure and response prevention by systematic desensitization where the person is gradually and slowly exposed to the feared object until he / she realizes that there is no reason to be afraid.
        • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most commonly used therapeutic treatment for phobias. CBT involves exposure to the source of the fear, but in a controlled setting. This treatment can decondition people and reduce anxiety.The therapy focuses on identifying and changing negative thoughts, dysfunctional beliefs, and negative reactions to fear. New CBT techniques use virtual reality technology to safely expose people to the sources of their phobias.
        • Social Skills Training – Training focusing on improving the social skills of the person especially dealing with interpersonal relations and interacting in society. This is especially applicable for people who have social phobia and the like.
        • Family Therapy –
          • Pay attention to the person’s feelings.
          • Stay calm when the person becomes anxious about a situation or event.
          • Provide calm support.
          • Make them learn to relax by calm breathing & muscle relaxation.
          • Promote realistic thinking.

Risk Factors

      • Those with a genetic predisposition to anxiety may be at a high risk for developing phobias.
      • Your age – Social phobia typically develops early in life, usually by age 13. Specific phobias first appear in childhood, usually by age 10. Agoraphobia occurs most frequently in the late teens and early adulthood, usually before the age of 35.
      • Your relatives – If someone in your family has a specific phobia, such as a fear of spiders or snakes, you’re more likely to develop it, too. This could be an inherited tendency, or children may learn phobias by observing a family member’s phobic reaction to an object or a situation.
      • Your temperament – Your risk may increase if you’re more sensitive, more inhibited or more negative than the norm.
      • A traumatic event – Experiencing a traumatic event, such as being trapped in an elevator or attacked by an animal, may trigger the development of a phobia.
      • If you have a phobia, it’s critical that you seek treatment. Overcoming phobias can be difficult, but there’s hope. With the right treatment, you can learn to manage your fears and lead a productive, fulfilling life.We at Mumbai Psychiatry Clinics have a dedicated team of counsellors and clinical psychologists who will help you with your problems, cite interventions and assess the progress on regular intervals. There are experienced psychiatrists who will be guiding you throughout your journey and our Multidisciplinary team will try to assure you with the best help possible.Reference –www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/phobias/basics/risk-factors/con-20023478
        http://www.healthline.com/health/phobia-simple-specific#Overview1