Phobia is an excessive, extreme, and irrational fear response. The source of fear can be a place, object, animal, person or a situation that can cause uncontrollable dread to the individual who is suffering from this mental disorder. They will design their life to avoid contact with the cause of their irrational fear.
The effects of phobia are difficult to disregard (such as panic attacks) which can be seriously crippling to some individuals. It has enough influence to interfere with an individual’s daily functions at school, work, social life, and personal relationships.
Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. says, “If you have a phobia, you probably realize that your fear is irrational, yet you still can’t control your feelings. Just thinking about the feared object or situation may make you anxious.”
How The Brain Reacts To A Phobia Attack
There are areas of the brain that store dangerous events and recall them later whenever the person is in a comparable scenario. The brain will then retrieve these memories and sometimes repeats them indefinitely which causes the body to recall the same sensation and experience it again. However, an individual with a Phobia keeps on retrieving the horrific scene in exaggeration inside the parts of the brain where he stores the memory. As Margie Mader, LMFT sees it, “The brain is not trying to traumatize them, it is trying to get rid of the discomfort through the reoccurrence of symptoms.”
Environmental factors, situational events, and genetics are the causes of the formation of phobias. They may be acquired from a simple traumatic event, a distressful experience, or a trait they get from their parents. Additionally, children from a family with a history of anxiety disorder are at a higher risk of developing a phobia.
The development of phobia begins mostly during childhood to the teenage years. Variable factors can easily influence an individual’s mentality during this time.
Signs and Symptoms
The signs of a phobia attack can range from mild to severe. In most cases, the nearer an individual is to the source of their phobia the harsher the symptoms. An individual with a phobia will exhibit the following signs during the attack. These symptoms are general to most types of phobias:
- The inability to function logically and properly during the exposition to the origin of the distress
- A sensation that drives you to avoid the source of fear at all cost
- A deep sense of anxiety when the source of fear is within an observable place.
- The inability to control feelings despite knowing that the fear is unreasonable, irrational, and excessive.
An individual suffering from a phobia attack can induce anxiety symptoms and panic attacks. Other physical symptoms include:
- Abnormal breathing
- Heartbeat acceleration
- Suffocating sensation
- A headache
- Chest pains
- Pins and needles sensation
- Confusion and disorientation
- Dry mouth
The symptoms above are displayable by thinking the source of fear as stimuli. Children can attempt to hide behind the parent, be very clingy, or may show a tantrum to express their anxiety. “Revealing the real catalyst,” wrote Peter Finlay, Ph.D., “is as much about exploring the history as it is about understanding the causes which are hidden in plain sight.”
Phobias don’t always cause distress which can alter the way a person’s life negatively. An excellent example is having a fear of spiders yet rarely seeing it due to living in the city. As long as an individual infrequently encounters their source of fear, living a normal life is achievable. However, it is advised to seek medical help if a regular person avoiding the triggers is unable to function normally.