Phobia: What are you afraid of?

Do you fear from travelling by an aeroplane, using a lift, looking down from a tall building, going for a roller coaster ride, taking a plunge in the swimming pool or fear of animals? Well! You might have a phobia

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A phobia is an excessive and irrational fear reaction. If you have a phobia, you may experience a deep sense of dread or panic when you encounter the source of your fear. The fear can be of a certain place, situation, or object. Unlike general anxiety disorders, a phobia is usually connected to something specific, say experts.

Dr Heena Merchant Pandit, ex-secretary of the Bombay Psychiatry Association and assistant professor at KEM Hospital said that it can be addressed by medications and counselling.

Below, Dr Heena lists out some common phobias:

  • Acrophobia: Fear of heights
  • Agoraphobia: Fear of open spaces or crowds
  • Mysophobia: Fear of germs
  • Claustrophobia: Fear of small spaces like elevators, small rooms and other enclosed spaces
  • Aerophobia: Fear of flying
  • Blood-injection-injury phobias: Fear of being injured, of seeing blood or of invasive medical procedures, such as blood tests or injections
  • Hydrophobia: Fear of water
  • Sociophobia: Fear of social evaluation
  • Belonephobia: Fear of pins and needles
  • Arachnophobia: Fear of spiders
  • Ophidiophobia: Fear of snakes
  • Ailurophobia: Fear of cats

The impact of a phobia can range from annoying to severely disabling. People with phobias often realise their fear is irrational, but they’re unable to do anything about it. Such fears can interfere with school, work and personal relationships. So, if you have a phobia, it’s critical that you seek treatment.

Mumbai-based clinical psychologist Arti Shroff tells about how to overcome the phobias:

  • Systematic desensitisation: In this method, one is gradually exposed to a step by step process to the feared stimuli, which helps in gradually reducing feelings of anxiety and minimising them
  • Cognitive Behaviour Therapy: Focuses on distorted cognitions that contribute to the development of the phobia and cognitive restructuring is used to address the phobia
  • Exposure Response Prevention: One learns to gradually face their fears
  • Behavioural monitoring: Noting down the behaviours and when they occur it helps in identifying the triggers
  • Relaxation methods: Meditation and deep breathing exercises