Psychology 101: People’s Weirdest Phobias

In psychology, we know that phobia is a condition of having an irrational fear of something. “Simply put,” wrote Nicole Martinez, LCPC, “a phobia is an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something … Usually, somewhere in their childhood they associated this ‘thing’ with fear, or had a bad experience.”

There is this presence of unbearable anxiety and terror that sometimes affects people’s daily functions. That is the reason why the National Institute of Mental Health considers it as one of the mental illnesses that require treatment and medication. Though some of its conditions may be common such as having a fear of heights, a fear of flying, a fear of spiders, a fear of snakes, and a fear of injection, there are types of phobias that seem a little bit freaky.

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Weirdest Types Of Phobias

Omphalophobia – It is a bizarre type of phobia where people feel afraid of the navel or what’s commonly called the “belly button.” Whether it is their navel or not, it doesn’t matter. Though it does not mean that these individuals are afraid of people, but getting too close with their navel is a big No-No. In some extreme cases, some people who imagine their belly button getting touched by others can cause severe panic attacks.

“While some things that scare people make sense due to the reasonable threat they cause, other things people fear can seem be come from an unreasonable place of fear due to the lack of threat that the things or situations cause.” – Shannon V. McHugh, PsyD

Turophobia – It is an entirely irrational fear of cheese. We might not believe it, but there are tons of people in the world who can’t seem to go near a piece of cheddar. People with turophobia often avoid consuming foods that are cheesy or anything that has cheese in it. These include cheese pizza, lasagna, cheesecakes, and so on.

Triskaidekaphobia – It is a condition that feels familiar to all people. It is the fear of the number 13. Well, it is mostly due to superstitious beliefs. Other causes of it sometimes relate to religion and myths too. Generally, a lot of people don’t like the number 13 because they feel it is not that nice. The severe cases are more like a psychological malady than an irrational belief.

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Nomophobia – It is a type of phobia that feels a little off. However, according to research, the cases are becoming common, especially to the younger generation. It is a condition where people fear being away from their cellphones, having low battery issues, and as well as having no connection to the internet.

Papaphobia – It is a phobia that seems a little bit questionable. However, it does exist. It is the fear of getting near or seeing the Pope. These people who have the condition suffer from increased heart rate, too much sweating, and sometimes nausea every time the Pope is around. The state is thought to relate to any fear concerning getting near any religious objects also.

Ablutophobia – It is the worse condition to have when people want to secure hygiene. That is because it is the phobia of washing or bathing. It is more common in kids than adults, though. However, without any assistance of therapy, it becomes a life-long issue when individuals reach adulthood. It will require treatment because it is believed to be the result of a traumatic experience as a child when bathing.

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Ephebiphobia – It is a condition where adults are irrationally scared of younger people. Yes, children, these days get subjected to moral panic due to older people’s constant complaints about them being spoiled. These kids get chastised for being out of control in some way. That is the reason why some adults don’t want to be anywhere near the youths.

Phagophobia – It is a type of phobia that entirely does not make any sense. It is the fear of swallowing. It differs from the fear of eating because it does not concern weight or whatsoever but merely focuses on the fear of choking. Though in some research, an individual’s throat has the potential to close during panic attacks making the condition a little bit scary.

Dextrophobia – It is one of the most irrational fears people could have. It is the fear of having things arranged in the right side position. According to sources, the condition is related to obsessive-compulsive personality disorder where these individuals avoid organizing stuff on the right. That is why they often clutter things at home or the office all to the left side.

Phobophobia – It is quite amusing because phobophobia is the fear of having a phobia. From a source of description, the condition may feel like a panic attack. At some point, the anxiety forms in the unconscious mind that when it begins, individuals feel tense and dizzy as well as experience heart pounding.

As strange as these phobias sound, these conditions genuinely exist.

Nevertheless, Dr. Josh Klapow, a clinical psychologist, said, “In general, approaching phobias is about teaching the body and the mind that the feared object or situation doesn’t have to automatically elicit the anxiety response.”

 

 

 

The Connection Between Technology And Anxiety

We live in an age where society has become dependent on technology. The demand for technology has continually been on the rise. This advancement is extremely useful in various fields of study such as medicine, engineering, and business. It serves as our medium for communication, learning, and development. However, its poor application has caused pollution to our environment and posed a grave threat to society. Technology also has a connection to several mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

Ellen Hendriksen, Ph.D. says, “You’d think that taking away uncertainty would make us less anxious. But instead, because technology has lessened our experience handling uncertainty, we’re less prepared to deal with ambiguity when it arises.”

 

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Mental issues are most prevalent among the youth, specifically those who have become dependent on the use of technology at a very early age. With the growing number of cases among the youth, studies have determined its cause as technology.

Technology And Anxiety

It is critical to determine the effect of technology on one’s mental health. This way, you can make the appropriate adjustments to your lifestyle. Here are three reasons why anxiety can develop from technology.

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  1. You exceed your social circle limit.

In the 1990s, a British anthropologist named Robin Dunbar proposed a theory on an individual’s relationships. According to him, there is a cognitive limit to the number of people we can maintain a stable social relationship with. These are relationships where we know each other and our relation to other people. He was able to identify that humans can maintain only 150 stable relationships.

With the growing use of social media, exceeding such a number is easy. It makes it uncomfortable to meet people whom you only get to interact with online. Situations arise where you’re able to talk to someone online but ignore them when you see each other in person. It also becomes easier to move on to new people given how easy it is to meet them online.

Dr. Nicholas J. Westers, a clinical psychologist, believes that technology does have benefits. “When we use it to reach out and connect with others or to discover and learn something new, then those are great, productive uses of social media and technology,” he says. “But when we become a passive audience to newsfeeds and posts, it can create negative feelings, including those of loneliness and depression.”

  1. Everything becomes too fast.

With the use of technology, daily activities have decreased in time. It becomes easier to wash our clothes, clean our room, or cook our meals. Everything is within our reach. With that, we often have too much time on our hands. It leaves some people without anything to do and thus leads them to boredom. With boredom, there is a chance of developing anxiety due to a lack of stimulation, which may cause you to feel very uncomfortable. Given how things are going too fast, we may lose patience in the smallest of things such as falling in line.

  1. You become dependent and addicted.

The overuse of technology slowly absorbs individuals. For some, their phones become an indispensable object they must bring everywhere. We keep looking for ways to enhance the way we do things. However, technology can’t replicate everything. We are slowly losing our traditional practices. As we lose them, there is a chance that we lose ourselves in the process. We may begin to question our heritage and culture.

People also become too dependent on the use of the internet. Some treat it as their world and as the thing that only matters. Some studies have related the overuse of the Internet to addiction. It is possible to develop symptoms of other forms of addiction, such as withdrawal, when they lose access to the Internet.

Tracy A. Dennis-Tiwary, Ph.D. wrote, “When teens consistently avoid uncertainty and discomfort, they lose opportunities to develop grit and determination.  What happens when bad things actually happen? Teens are more likely to be gripped by anxiety, worry, and stress.”

Combating The Negative Effects

There will always be something you can change. If you believe you are experiencing some of the problems above, don’t worry. You can still improve your condition. Here are three useful tips.

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Are you lying down doing nothing? Stand up and move your body! Breathe fresh air and take in the wonders of nature as you jog outside. Keeping your body in shape will benefit you more. It is better than just exercising your fingers as you scroll through social media networks.

  • Keep everything in moderation.

Too much is never a good thing; it is always best to keep things in moderation. Just like how we limit what we eat, we shouldn’t dwell too much on the use of technology. Set a limit to how often you play the games on your phone. Don’t reside too much among your social media accounts.

It is best to meet people face to face. By traveling, you get to have many opportunities to experience things you only see through the screen. Instead of containing yourself into enjoying those things, why not go out and experience it yourself? You need time to be outside. Get off the screen and live life head-on.

We shouldn’t create a world in the digital realm. We already have one; go live it out and appreciate its beauty. There is life away from a screen.

Top Treatments For Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder refers to the overwhelming fear of any social situation. It is also known as social phobia. It may range from public speaking, ordering in a restaurant, dating, or coming to parties. Whenever people cut themselves off from all kinds of interaction due to social anxiety, there is a high tendency that this might result in low self-esteem and depression.

“A person who suffers from social anxiety tends to think that other people are far better at public speaking, or hanging out in a social situation and mingling with others at a party,” says Johnna Medina, Ph.D.

If you are one of those people who think that sickness is already controlling and taking over your life, this may be the best time to get treatment. The type of treatment depends on the gravity of your social anxiety disorder. The doctor will take into consideration how much social phobia affects your ability to function in your everyday life.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

The most known and useful type of psychotherapy is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). In CBT, you are forced to face the situations that you fear the most. This kind of exposure will improve your coping skills and help you deal with anxiety-inducing scenarios.

According to Melissa Mose, LMFT, “Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy is used to address the distorted perceptions and to reduce the overall level of anxiety. Various types of “Exposure Therapy” are also critical in order to provide both imagined and actual experiences of managing the feared social situations more comfortably.”

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CBT also teaches you how to pinpoint and change the negative thoughts you feel about yourself. This kind of cognitive restructuring exercise is designed to identify your negative thoughts, measure the gravity of the fear, evaluate how they are, and come up with alternative thinking which will counter the original ones.

There are social skills training and role-playing sessions as part of your therapy. Some activities under this include lessons on public speaking or periods on teaching you how to navigate a party full of strangers. There are even exercises that will target some of your simple social skills such as eye contact, answering telephone calls, doing small talk, and improving assertiveness.

Prescription Medications

 

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There are various types of prescription medications that may help address social anxiety disorder. Listed below are some of the most prescribed medications:

  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) – SSRIs are one of the most common medicines for treatment due to ease of administration and tolerable side effects. There are, however, some complications that might arise with regards to withdrawal effects when ending the medication. Some SSRIs include Fluoxetine (Prozac), Sertraline (Zoloft), and Paroxetine (Paxil).
  • Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRI) – SNRIs are types of antidepressant which act on norepinephrine and neurotransmitters serotonin. Some kinds of SNRIs include Venlaxafine (Effexor) and Duloxetine (Cymbalta).
  • Beta-blockers – These are taken to block the stimulating effect of epinephrine or adrenaline. Beta-blockers eliminate the shaking of voice and limbs, reduce heart rate, and lower blood pressure. They are of best use in situations that require mental sharpness since they do not affect the cognitive ability that much.
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOI) – In the past years, this has been the best treatment for social anxiety disorder. However, MAOIs are not that often used anymore since they carry serious side effects if you do not follow the medication and dietary guidelines. Examples of MAOIs include Marplan (isocarboxazid), Nardin (phenelzine), and Parnate (tranylcypromine).

Always keep in mind that these medicines won’t show its results until the 3rd to 6th week. Just make sure to be wary of its side effects and get the attention of the doctor if there are severe negative results.

Alternative Medicine

Although herbal remedies have mixed results when it comes to treating social phobia, there are still some individuals who use this.

Some herbal supplements, such as theanine and passionflower, have a calming effect but they are more often in other products as well. Because of this, it is hard to determine whether they help in downplaying some symptoms of anxiety. Valerian and kava, on the other hand, are known to lessen anxieties, but there is a risk of severe liver damage.

With all of these in mind, more research is needed to be able to understand the effects and risks of these herbal remedies fully. Make sure to talk to your doctor first before taking any alternative medicine. This way, it is assured that it won’t negatively interfere with the other medications you take.

Complementary Treatments

Some of these additional treatments have not been scientifically proven to be directly treating social anxiety disorder. However, they are seen to have some minimal effects in addressing some of the symptoms of the illness. Complementary treatments include yoga, aromatherapy, and dietary supplements.

“Yoga engages the relaxation response, so needed by those with anxiety, an experience that includes racing thoughts and shallow breathing,” says Mary NurrieStearns, LCSW.

 

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Social phobia might make you feel uncomfortable and might provoke anxiety when you’re trying to reach out for help the first time. Remember, however, that this is a necessity to be able to address your social anxiety disorder and positively affect your well-being in the long run.

 

 

 

The Mechanics Of Always Feeling Afraid

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Are you feeling scared all the time about almost everything that even your own family can’t seem to comprehend what it is you are feeling exactly? Have you ever imagined that this could be possible – a constant and continuous phobia or a persistent feeling of fear and anxiety?

“But, there are people whose physical makeup predisposes them to chronic anxiety, unrelated to threat. They worry about everything, no matter how unreal the perceived threat seems to be. They have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).” – Deborah Khoshaba Psy.D.

Here’s a list of the descriptions that you may feel when you are confirmed to be feeling constant fear and anxiety.

·      Feeling scared all the time.

·      A feeling that you are in a state of fear every minute of every day.

·      You are always feeling afraid, and your reactions to everything always involved fear.

·      Feeling gloomy and paranoia that doom is always following you.

·      Your thoughts are filled with fearful thoughts that are unstoppable.

·      The feeling that there’s danger everywhere you go.

·      Your fear response is always turned on.

·      You are startled by almost anything, big or small.

·      A feeling like everything is a threat and a disaster.

·      You feel afraid over things you were not afraid of before.

·      Feeling dreadful all the time.

 

Causes Of Always Feeling Afraid

There are two primary causes of constant fear and anxiety: behavior and the physical, emotional, and psychological effects of stress.

John Kim, LMFT, wrote, “Most people are driven by their fears, leading them to make (or avoid making) particular decisions that pull them down a dark, sticky dead-end road.”

Behavior

This refers specifically to apprehensive or hesitant behavior, like the feeling of worry. This kind of behavior forms the physical, emotional and psychological state of being anxious, which is anxiety. When we act hesitantly, our body’s survival mechanism is turned on, more particularly, the stress response. We then release hormones that travel throughout certain parts of the body, resulting in bodily changes that heighten its capacity to handle the threat. This is the stress response or the fight or flight response.

 

The more worried we are, the more operational the stress response becomes. Therefore, constant worry consequently creates a state of anxiety or being scared all the time.

 

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The Physical, Emotional, And Psychological Consequences Of Stress

As mentioned above, behaving apprehensively turns on one’s stress response. When this happens, the amygdala or the fear center located in the brain also becomes active while the rationalization parts of the brain are suppressed, causing a heightened sense of fear and peril and a decreased capacity to think rationally. Thus, behaving hesitantly initially leads to a state of anxiety, and then the changes that affect one’s physical, emotional, and psychological aspects, which are the result of the activation of the stress response. Finally, the outcome is of constant fear and anxiety.

 

The explanation further supports that when fear occurs, it’s not that the brain is not functioning appropriately. On the contrary, it is functioning the way it should be when we think that we are threatened, in any form of danger, or when the body becomes too stressed. The constant fear, then, is caused both by behavior and the effect of apprehensive behavior.

 

Eliminating The Feeling Of Always Being Afraid

Obviously, if you want to stop the stimulation of the stress response and its accompanying changes, you’ll need to learn how to calm yourself down. And when your body recuperates from the stress response, you should expect a diminished level of excitement and a gradual return to your normal state. Remember that it takes more than 20 minutes for your body to recover from a stress response. This shouldn’t alarm you, as this is a normal occurrence.

 

However, when the fight and flight reaction originated from a hyperstimulated stress response, your body will need more time to return to its normal state, and the constant fear wanes and eventually disappears.

 

It is important to note that displaying a hesitant or angst-ridden behavior involves creating a change in behavior as well. For instance, instead of fearfully thinking about your future, you need to modify your behavior in a way that you can imagine your future in a more hopeful tone. If it’s not easy for you to do this or to change this bad habit, you might want to seek help from a mental health professional or a therapist to assist you in determining and tackling the fundamental factors that have resulted in you displaying such apprehensive behavior.

 

Basically, most individuals are not able to make the necessary behavioral changes by themselves. A professional counselor or therapist is usually recommended to evoke a meaningful and productive transition, especially for those who always have fear or anxiety issues. It will also take the support of family, friends, and significant others to achieve a positive outcome physically, mentally successfully, and emotionally.

 

Conclusion

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Linda Sapadin, Ph.D. poses a challenge: “Picture yourself standing at a fork in the road. You can choose the left fork…the right fork…or you can continue standing at the crossroads forever.”

A combination of excellent self-help data and working closely with a seasoned anxiety disorder or depression coach, therapist, or counselor is one of the most efficient methods of addressing constant fear, anxiety, and their symptoms. A person struggling with an anxiety disorder has difficulty controlling herself from becoming anxious again and again. The goal of the professional is to rid you of the symptoms haunting you and causing you to feel fear, hopelessness, and worry, and replace these with feelings and thoughts of determination, confidence, and hope for a better future.

 

 

 

 

Death Isn’t Just A Word: Death Is Real And Death Is Certain

How I Developed Thanatophobia

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“Put differently, short term death anxiety forces a pushing of death thoughts out of one’s mind, but it actually increases death anxiety over time.” – Nathan Heflick, Ph.D. 

The day my grandma died was one of the saddest days of my existence. We were inseparable. We even shared the same room until I was 12! I remember I used to pray that half of my life be added to hers, so she’d live longer. I was still a baby when my mom and dad got divorced. My mom had to work elsewhere, so she had to leave me with my grandma.

I remember she used to tell me about heaven, and how we’re all going to go up there one day if we live righteously. She was so calm as if she wasn’t scared, but I was. I was scared to lose her! I would imagine every night how we were going to die together, but I prayed that we wouldn’t get sick, because I don’t want to see her suffer, and I don’t want to suffer either. So I would imagine us holding hands climbing up white glowing stairs all the way to heaven.

Time passed, and my world got bigger. I started to have friends. I had a boyfriend. I was 17 then, and  I finally had a life of my own. I was always out, and I seldom had time to spend with her. She got old and one day got sick. I don’t know what had gotten into me, but I wasn’t scared at all. I thought she’d get better. I was too occupied with everything that was going on in my life. That time, I found out I was pregnant, and I was terrified! I didn’t know what to do. My boyfriend and I were not ready, and we both wanted to give “it” up.

One night, we were fighting outside the house when we heard a scream from the inside. It was my aunt! She screamed so loudly, “Mom! My mom’s gone!” We were stunned. I rushed into the house to see her lifeless body on her bed. “This isn’t happening. She can’t be gone. This can’t be possible!” Those were the thoughts I had in my head as I was looking at her shocked. I was waiting for her chest to rise again. I wasn’t even crying. I was just waiting for her to open her eyes, but she never did. She was really gone!

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Deborah Khoshaba Psy.D. says, “Anxiety is physiological. But, it can be lessened or worsened by the ways that you cope with it. Thus, psychotherapy for anxiety disorders is needed.”

My mom who was away had to come home. She had to look after me when my grandma died. Little did she know that she’s going to be a grandma herself. Having had a baby that time made me cope up with my loss easier. I had someone new in my life, someone else I love more than anyone in this world. I love my son so much that at night I pray silently, “I pray that you didn’t have to get the half of my life to let my grandma live 92 because I want to live long. I want to see my son have a child of his own someday.”

Time went by, and I still miss my grandma. I wish she had met my little boy, but life had to move on. We lived with my mom because she was alone. But if you ask me, I think she would prefer to be alone than have us around. She wasn’t the mother like my grandma. She loved makeup, and she loved attention. Though I have to admit, she was absolutely beautiful! She would always go out with her friends and seemed to be enjoying her life like she never had me. There was a part of me who missed her, but there was also a part of me who hated her. We would always argue, and she couldn’t handle me. One time I overheard her say, “Mom, I wish you’re here. How can she be this hard?” At that time, I remember I wanted to hug her and say, “I’m sorry,” but I didn’t.

Me, my son and his dad moved to a farther place to live separately from my mom. At last, I’m going to be in charge. I can be the mother I should be without someone telling me to do this and that. But I never knew it was going to be that exhausting! I only knew a thing or two, and I would need to call my mom what to do or cook this and that. My relationship with my mom, I have to say, got better. We became closer as I was discovering about myself too.

My son was two weeks shy of turning one. I was busy preparing for his party when I got very ill. I went to the doctor, and I was shocked. She said I was six weeks pregnant! I couldn’t believe it. I came home speechless. I didn’t know what to think. I was in no position to act scared because it wasn’t my first time. I was sitting at the dining seat when my phone rang. It was my aunt from back home. “Hello?” Then her voice was trembling while she was saying, “Your mom. She had a stroke, and she’s in a coma.”

We took the first flight the next morning. When I arrived at the hospital, everyone in the waiting area was looking at me. It’s as if they were waiting for my reaction. Then I entered my mom’s room and saw her. Tubes were all over her. It was horrifying! The memory of my grandma’s lifeless body flashed back so vividly. “This isn’t happening! No, this can’t be happening, again!” Those were the words I was screaming inside of me, but I was just standing right beside her bed, my eyes wide open, and it felt like I was floating. I could hear people from behind talking, but they were speaking alien. I couldn’t understand a word. It’s as if everything around me was moving slowly.

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Then I heard a voice behind me, “We were just waiting for you.” It was my aunt. She said she had a ruptured aneurysm, and they couldn’t save her anymore. That machine is the only thing that’s keeping her alive.” She said we needed to decide if we’re going to keep the respirator which kept her breathing, or we let her go and put her out of her misery because there’s no chance she’s going to come back. I said I needed time to think. I didn’t have money to sustain her life support, and I wasn’t sure anyone would be generous enough to help me. I went home to our house to change.

When I got back to the hospital, she was not in her room anymore. My aunt said their eldest sister signed the waiver about putting her out of the respirator. Again, I was speechless. I didn’t even get the chance to bid goodbye or tell her I’m going to have another baby, just like what happened to my grandma.

I was in a dark place. I never realized life could be this painful. They were just here, and now, they’re gone. Death indeed isn’t just a word. It is real, and it is certain. Ever since I lost both of the most important women in life, I’ve never been the same. I always fear the inevitable. I fear my own death. “Will it be painful? Will I be able to say goodbye? What If I die tomorrow? What will happen to my kids?” These thoughts were restless, hovering above my head. I can’t stop thinking about them. There were times I would wake up in the middle of the night crying, and I would hug my kids. “I can’t die. They wouldn’t be able to handle it.”

I became so paranoid that even the littlest pain I felt get me so anxious. I would go to a doctor with a minor aching in my ear. I was worried I had throat cancer! That’s the closest I had with all the symptoms I was feeling. I was like a crazy person always searching the internet for any possible sickness I could get and could have. I couldn’t sleep whenever I hear tragic news on TV, especially when it’s about a mom dying on her young kids. I was fearful it could happen to me. It went on for a year, and I was starting to realize that the day my mom died which was a reminder of my grandma’s death was the day a part of me died too.

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I isolated myself and lived in darkness. I was living in fear of the future, which I certainly knew what. My husband got so worried because I wasn’t the happy soul who gave light to their lives. I was sad and empty. He decided he had to do something. He forced me to see a psychologist, and I was diagnosed with thanatophobia: the fear of one’s own death. I was referred to a psychiatrist and was prescribed with meds for my anxiety, depression, and sleeping disorders.

Now, I’m starting to get better. Though there will still be times when I would break down, I’m definitely better than I was yesterday. I am attending which helps me cope up with my fear. I am starting to understand that there are things we don’t have a choice but to accept. I can’t live my life thinking I would die because it wouldn’t be living anyway. It is the death of my soul, and it sucks the life out of the people around me. From now on, I have to make a choice, and I choose to live my life without fear but one: the fear of not living the life I’m supposed to be living.

To end, here something from Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW: “The issue of death is very real. Everyone you know will die and every baby that is born tomorrow will eventually die. Anyone who’s ever lived has either died or will die. It is a very deep issue that we all must grapple with.”

 

Agoraphobia: Home Is My Solace

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When you are experiencing panic attacks, you have a kind of anxiety disorder that is characterized by repetitive and usually unanticipated attacks. They can be described by the inflicted individual as having a gamut of fears that manifests as scary physical symptoms and devastating thoughts. An example would be a person experiencing shortness of breath, unintentional body shaking, increased heart rate and chest pains during a panic attack.

What’s worse is that the person may not want to be taken to the hospital because he feels more afraid and anxious about the thought that they might have a more severe condition, more so feeling that they might suddenly die in the emergency room.

Despite these frightening symptoms, people who have had panic attacks for quite some time learn to manage and overcome the challenges that they encounter under the circumstances. As of today, health experts have introduced many regimens that assist patients in recovering from their condition. Unfortunately, some of these people cope with a panic attack through unhealthy ways, and an estimated one-third of them progress to develop a distinct mental health illness referred to as agoraphobia.

 

Agoraphobia Defined

Agoraphobia is the severe anxiety and fear of experiencing a panic attack. The person involved is worried that he will not be able to manage his attacks if he is not at home or is in another circumstance or location that he is not familiar with. He is very anxious that he might embarrass himself in front of other people, and no one would be there to help him.

Steve Bressert, Ph.D. wrote, “Agoraphobic fears typically involve characteristic clusters of situations that include being outside the home alone; being in a crowd or standing in a line; being on a bridge; and traveling in a bus, train, or automobile.”

 

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Because of the intense anxiety and fear that agoraphobics feel, they often develop avoidance behaviors, wherein they prefer to stay away from specific locations or circumstances that they think will cause their triggers to appear. These behaviors may include fear of getting into a car, plane or other types of transportation, big crowds, or open spaces such as malls. Because of such behaviors, the lives of the people who suffer from agoraphobia may be tremendously limited, to the point that the safest and only comfortable place they want to be in is their home. They would rather feel isolated and lonely and miserable than to experience a bout of panic attack outside of their comfort zone.

However, there are some steps that agoraphobics can take to manage their symptoms.

 

Visit A Mental Health Professional

“The good news is that once you face your fear—and give the boogeyman air—rather than shove it into a distant compartment of your brain, it begins losing the ability to rule you and dictate your decisions,” says Sherry Amatenstein, LCSW.

It may be impossible for them, but yes, agoraphobia is curable. Seeking professional help is the first step to cure. The health expert will review the patient’s symptoms, give an official diagnosis, and formulate a treatment plan. Following the plan religiously has shown positive outcomes and improvements over the years.

Practice Relaxation Techniques

Learning self-help techniques to reduce anxiety can be a big help to agoraphobics, especially because there are several times when they experience panic attacks without warning. Breathing and meditation are some of the methods that are easy to follow and very effective in producing a calming response.

 

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Find Ways To Reduce Stress

Ultimately, stress is the culprit of any individual who is depressed or anxious. And finding ways to alleviate stress would be very crucial in the life of an agoraphobic. It is also vital in improving one’s mental and physical well-being. Exercises like running, working out, and dancing are only some of the many ways to reduce stress. Recreational activities such as watching movies or television, family time, and travel are also very helpful in improving one’s mood and mindset.

“The first step,” says John Kim, LMFT, “is owning your fears and then identifying them. Then, of course, the question becomes, “How do I get rid of these fears?”

 

 

The Link Between PTSD And Phobia

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Post-traumatic stress disorder affects a person’s capability to live a normal life. It is one of the psychological disorders where people suffer from severe emotional and mental trauma. Though it becomes a common thing, the condition in some instances develops another disorder after showing signs of PTSD. The disorder is what we call a phobia. Cases of phobia elevate after months of following a recollection of painful experiences.

The case of PTSD is a complex psychological reaction to extreme stress. In some unfortunate cases, a person is put into a very grave and dangerous life-threatening situation. Some of these situations might include, combat experience, natural disaster, the death of a loved one, or any form of violence and sexual abuse. As Colleen Cira, PsyD. wrote once, “Basically, any kind of scary or disturbing event that overwhelms our ability to cope falls into the PTSD category.”

 

PTSD And Phobia

The symptoms of PTSD are far more extreme than phobia even if some signs happen to be the same. According to researchers, there are 17 specific symptoms constituted by the condition. These 17 symptoms are divided into three categories which are re-experiencing, avoidance, and hyperarousal.

A phobia is an uncontrollable, persistent or irrational form of fear. It is accompanied by a compelling desire to avoid a specific object or situation that might trigger the fear itself. As far as the mental condition is concerned, a phobia is no different than PTSD. That’s because both PTSD and phobia involve the same neural pathways that create an impact on the brain. However, in some scenarios, PTSD can become worse and more troublesome than the latter.

 

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Phobia And Memories

There are two types of bad memories. The first type is the one that goes away after a month or a year. It is a narrative memory about a tragic incident that can easily get recalled. Some examples of these are car accident, fire, death of a family member or some things that are no longer intrusive after time. The other type of bad memory is a traumatic memory. This type of retention does not merely go away. As time goes by, it becomes even worse. These kinds of memories are connected to life-threatening events that imprint a survival template in the brain. If not treated with proper medical care or therapy, it may continue to fire off strong emotional and psychological problem that leads to dangerous situations.

 

Source: defense.gov

 

The Intervention

Traumatic experiences link both PTSD and phobia. Therefore, there’s a necessary treatment that needs to get done. The most reliable way of treating these disorders is through the rewind technique. This method uses a refinement or guided imagery technique that allows the brain to revisit traumatic events in a remarkably calm way. Through this technique, the amygdala can reinterpret the memory as a non-threatening event. The process helps the brain to visualize the incident without exhibiting negative behavior such as panicking, anxiousness, and agitation.

Sherry Amatenstein, LCSW, has a great suggestion: “Write a letter,” she says, “Dear Anxiety, I am no longer intimidated by you. What can you teach me?

Both PTSD and phobia are products of traumatizing events. Though both of these can end up in a severe condition, treatments are still available. The proper medication, techniques, and therapies exist to correct these mental conditions.

“At the end of the day, the simple act of talking about/thinking about our problems, or simply seeking out help, can be the best decision we can make for our health.” – Joaquin Selva, Psychologist. 

 

 

How Phobias Can Affect Our Everyday Lives

How Phobias Can Affect Our Everyday Lives

Contrary to what most people are thinking, phobia and fear are not the same. Though they both express the feeling of being scared of something, a phobia is more of an uncontrollable health condition, while fear is considered a healthy emotion. This is likewise explained in drycreekclovis.com/

Continue reading How Phobias Can Affect Our Everyday Lives

Too High, Too Scared To Look Down

 

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“Moreover, when you avoid something that scares you, you tend to experience a sense of failure. Every time you avoid a feared object or situation, your anxiety gains strength while you lose some; you accumulate another experience of failure and another piece of evidence attesting to your weakness.” – Noam Shpancer, Ph.D.

One of the most common fears that could strike a person is the fear of heights. Acrophobia, like any other phobias, is one form of anxiety disorder that can be disabling when a person is placed in an elevation that is several feet, or even just a few meters, off the ground.

This can be a disadvantage for people whose jobs require them to be at a certain height. Imagine if you have acrophobia and you work for a company whose office is located on a higher floor of a building, and your workstation is inconveniently situated near the floor-to-ceiling glass window.

 

The Symptoms

Heights are naturally something anyone can be afraid of. Not everyone can stand being way above ground and be comfortable looking down.

the feeling of irrational and paralyzing fear that often leads to panic attacks, causing the person to experience shortness of breath, palpitations or irregular heartbeat, hyperventilation, sweating, nausea, dizziness, and numbness of the knees and legs.

If you feel any of those symptoms whenever you are situated at a high place or just the thought of being at a certain height, then you most likely have acrophobia. lose your sense of balance that you are gripped with the urge to lower your body, often on all fours, and crawl.

When asked what was the distinction between panic attacks and anxiety, Greg Kushnick Psy.D., answered, “Panic attacks are not necessarily connected to a specific stressor. They may lead you to avoid certain places that bring on the horrific symptoms associated with a panic attack. If it feels like it came out of nowhere, it’s not connected to an event in the future and you need to escape a place you’re in, it’s probably panic.”

The Disadvantage

 

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Having acrophobia may pose limitations to your activities and lifestyle. Avoidance of being in a situation you fear may limit your choices, especially with the line of work.

If you wish to be an architect, you may think twice in pursuing your ambition since the work will require you to be on higher levels of a building under construction that leaves you with a clear view of the ground.

There is also the potential of placing yourself or anyone around you in danger. If you are suddenly overcome by fear once you find yourself on higher ground, panicking might be your initial reaction.

 

The Cause

Since being scared of heights may be considered generally normal because high places can be deemed as dangerous and thus triggers natural fear of falling, heightened reaction of that fear. It is also said that it may be a genetic counterbalance to a person’s natural instinct to remove or distance himself from danger.

Like some other phobias, acrophobia might also be the result of a past traumatic experience involving heights. They may have fallen from an elevated platform or have been left hanging from a certain distance above ground for a certain period that the incident has embedded a natural fearful reaction whenever they are placed in a similar situation.

 

The Treatment

Deal with the symptoms. As with other phobias, gradual desensitization may be utilized as a part of the therapeutic process which involves sequentially exposing you to the cause of your fear.  Since it may be improbable and treacherous to expose a person with “acrophobia to an actual ledge or any high place, some practitioners use the virtual reality approach.

 

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Cognitive therapy may also help you confront the distorted thoughts that flood your mind whenever you are exposed to heights and may change your behavior towards fear.

According to Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., “The basic premise of CBT is that our thoughts—not external events—affect the way we feel. In other words, it’s not the situation you’re in that determines how you feel, but your perception of the situation.”

There are ways to overcome acrophobia that you don’t have to live with it. Reach out to a specialist and seek help in confronting your fear of heights.