Frequently Asked Questions About Phobia Therapy

Everyone has something they fear. However, these fears become serious when they start to take control over someone’s life. Phobias are powerful and irrational fears that can promote significant levels of anxiety.

However, a greater understanding of phobias and their treatments can help patients restore their quality of life. Phobias might be persistent, but people can take control of this condition through a comprehensive treatment plan.

The Impacts of Phobias

Several factors distinguish phobias from normal fears. First, they tend to fixate on a specific object, activity, or concept. People with phobias have clear and identifiable triggers for their anxiety. For example, some people have arachnophobia, defined as an excessive fear of spiders.

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Phobias also tend to cause intense and disproportionate anxiety. The intense emotions that patients experience may not match with the threat imposed by the object of fear. People with phobias may experience persistent and overwhelming anxiety that triggers physical symptoms, such as palpitations, dizziness, and sweating.

Phobias tend to cause behavioral changes. People actively avoid encountering the object of the phobia, even if the item is harmless. They might also take unreasonable countermeasures to protect themselves from the perceived threat.

The person might have a phobia triggered by a wide variety of situations, such as acrophobia or the fear of heights. In these cases, phobias can cause significant changes in daily routine. These phobias can cause difficulties in having a career, enjoying social activities, or even relaxing at home.

Fortunately, phobia therapy can help patients rationalize their fears and manage their emotions. Working with a therapist can resolve most phobia cases and enable people to live normal lives. Learn more about phobias and their associated therapies in the FAQs below.

Can phobias be cured?

It is possible to heal and cure most phobias entirely successfully.

  • For common phobias, there is a therapy called desensitization or self-exposure therapy. In this therapy, people with a phobia are exposed little by little to the things that trigger their anxiety and fear. 
  • For complicated phobias, it requires more time and attention. It might need verbal therapies such as counseling, psychotherapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy.

What are the 5 categories of phobias?

Animal Type

It is a phobia towards animals, such as Arachnophobia (spider), Cynophobia (dogs), Ophidiophobia (snake).

Natural Environment Type

These phobias involve the natural environment, such as Acrophobia (height), Astraphobia (thunder and lightning), Aquaphobia (water), Nyctophobia (dark).

Blood-Injection-Injury Type 

It is a type of phobia which occurs when exposed to blood, injection, or injury, such as Hemophobia (blood), Traumatophobia (injury), Trypanophobia (needles).

Situational Type

It is a type of phobia that involves fear of specific situations, such as Aviophobia or Aerophobia (flying), Amaxophobia (driving), Claustrophobia (confined spaces).

Other Types: Emetophobia (choking phobia, vomiting), Nosophobia (contracting an illness), Phonophobia (loud sounds).

What is phobia counseling?

Counseling therapy regarding phobias is a progressive and regulated process of managing fear and anxiety. It helps individuals establish positive thoughts and behavior habits that foster well-being and the fulfillment of living. 

What is the weirdest phobia?

Ablutophobia falls under the situational-specific type of phobia, which means it can hinder your daily life. It is the excessive anxiety towards taking a bath, washing, or cleaning. Most commonly, this phobia arises in kids and improves over time, but it may still occur in adulthood.

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What is the #1 phobia?

Arachnophobia is one of the most widespread types of specific phobia. It impacts about 3.5% to 6.1% of the world’s population. Those with arachnophobia are likely to go out of their way to guarantee that they don’t come close to a spider.

To keep themselves away from spiders, they end up limiting their hobbies and activities where spider encounters are possible.

Is Trypophobia real?

Trypophobia is not officially acknowledged by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) of the American Psychiatric Association.

As stated by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), real phobias are those that can trigger excessive anxiety and fear of disrupting your daily life. Trypophobia does not comply with that standard.

What causes Trypophobia?

A 2013 study examined how individuals with Trypophobia react to specific stimuli (Honeycomb) in contrast to an individual without the condition. The researchers theorized that individuals with Trypophobia acquire symptoms because they subliminally connect the honeycomb with a terrifying animal, such as a rattlesnake, where its pattern is comparable.

The condition is assumed to be activated when an individual sees a pattern of tiny bunched holes that bring out symptoms, such as fear, anxiety, and disgust.

What is Novinophobia?

Novinophobia is a phobia where there is a fear of wine running out. It is a phobia that worries about the lack of wine for consumption.

For people with Novinophobia, they need to have accessible wine for drinking all the time. Suppose their wine glasses or bottles become empty or nearly empty; people with this condition panic or become anxious. Given that there is no wine available to drink, they live in a continuous feeling of fear.

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What is the Trypanophobia?

Trypanophobia is characterized as an intense fear of injections or needles concerning medical operations. While several phobias were pointed and sharp objects are involved, Trypanophobia includes the fear’s medical side. It is also sometimes referred to as:  

  • Aichmophobia: Fear of sharp and pointed objects
  • Belonephobia: fear of needles and pins
  • Enetophobia: fear of pins

What is the meaning of Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia?

Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia ironically is the fear of long words. When presented with long words, individuals dealing with such disorders appear to feel a high anxiety level. 

What is Megalophobia?

Megalophobia is also called the fear of large objects. The perception or interaction with a building, car, or any large object triggers extreme fear and anxiety.

This disorder is characterized by extreme anxiousness, which is so severe that it requires tremendous precautions to avoid the stimuli. It might also be extreme enough to disrupt the everyday routine.

How do you get Trypanophobia?

Some of the variables leading to this phobia progression include:

  • Traumatic events in life or past injuries induced by a particular object or incident.
  • Family members who have a similar phobia (which could reflect hereditary or acquired behavior)
  • Passing out or extreme dizziness as an outcome of having a vasovagal reflexive response once pierced with a needle.
  • Traumatic experiences and anxiousness because of painful injection that the presence of a needle can induce.
  • During medical procedures involving a needle, it induces extreme anxiety, high blood pressure, or a fast heart rate.

Can needle phobia be cured?

To cure the phobia of needles, here are a few valuable tips:

  • Reformulate your reasoning. Know that any discomfort correlated with injection shots or drawing blood is almost instant.
  • Confront the fear. Often, just seeing images of needles or holding a needle will aid you in overcoming your anxiety. Once the needle becomes more familiar, it may help you lessen the feeling of fearfulness.
  • Seek counseling. Individuals experiencing severe cases of needle phobia may need the assistance of a psychotherapist or a licensed mental health counselor.

How do I know if I have Trypanophobia?

You will know that you have Trypanophobia if you feel symptoms whenever you see a needle or when you thought of undergoing a procedure involving a needle. The symptoms include:

  • Fainting
  • Dizziness
  • Panic attacks
  • Anxiety
  • Racing heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Avoidance of medical care

How common is Trypanophobia?

Research shows that a notable 20% of the populace has a certain level of fear of injections and needles, and within that figure, 10% struggle from Trypanophobia.

Treatments for Phobia

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As shown in the FAQs above, phobias come in many forms. Despite the fears being irrational and excessive, they have real adverse impacts on the people who have phobias.

As such, patients deserve to be treated seriously instead of being ridiculed. Validating their struggles and prompting them to seek mental healthcare are the first steps towards recovery.

Your doctor will conduct an interview and review your medical history during the diagnostic phase. These procedures will help rule out other conditions that might be giving you anxiety.

They will use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-5, to determine criteria for diagnosing you with a specific phobia.

For most phobias, you will receive exposure therapy, which modifies how you respond to the object of your phobia. Under controlled settings, you will be exposed gradually and repeated to your trigger points.

Like with other mental health conditions, you will also undergo cognitive behavioral therapy. You will work with a therapist to learn about coping methods for dealing with fear. The goal of this therapy is for you to develop mastery over your emotions, giving you power over them.

Your doctor will advise you to practice mindfulness and relaxation strategies at home and exercise regularly. Additionally, you may receive short-term medication to quell symptoms.

Phobia therapy is beneficial for everyone. Many people will ultimately get over their phobias, while around half would only experience mild and unobtrusive fears. Instead of hiding your fears, make sure to approach your doctor so that you can confront your phobias together.

Mental Health Real Talk: I Have Fear Of Job Loss

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I lived a pretty sheltered life when I was young. Every morning, Mom would wake me up with the smell of freshly cooked waffles, scrambled eggs, and orange juice. My lunch box would always be filled to the brim with various snacks and sandwiches, too. Even my clothes would be laid out on the bed by the time I came back to my room after breakfast. And when I became a full-fledged college student, I didn’t need to worry about part-time work or student loans because my parents practically gave me a full-ride scholarship.

However, I decided to make some changes in my life when I got my Bachelor’s degree. I didn’t want to seem like those bratty kids who had been spending all their parents’ hard-earned money just because they could. Although I knew that Mom and Dad would still give me anything I asked from them, that would be too crazy of me. So, I applied for a job and left the nest.

Being A Working Girl

I was lucky to send my application to a company that was specifically looking for fresh graduates. I got a spot as an assistant video producer, which I thought was quite impressive. I was getting more than $2,000 a month, so I could afford a tiny apartment without getting hungry. Because I needed to go to various shooting locations, I found it convenient to get a car on a mortgage. There was a very little amount of money I could save every month, but it was okay since I had a stable job.

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The thing was, the Great Depression came in 2008, and the company I worked for was too small to survive. After three months, the bosses announced that they filed for bankruptcy and that we would only be able to work there with pay for 30 days.

My mind started reeling in that instant. I was facing a job loss, and I couldn’t move. I knew what I had to do – get a filing box to stuff all my desk items in and look for another job – but it was as if the news bolted my feet in the ground. That’s when I realized how afraid I was of losing my job.

Fear Of Job Loss

 I couldn’t precisely remember the procession of events after the announcement, but I found myself in my apartment in the evening, talking to my sister on the phone. Not only was she my best friend, but she also happened to be a psychologist. I was fairly certain that my sister would know the right words to say to me.

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And I was right. When my litany ended, my sister said, “Take deep breaths now. Your fear of job loss is real, but you don’t want your mental health issue to muddle your brain – not now when you technically have to apply for a new job again.”

I replied, “I don’t know what happened to me. I never experienced this until now. Why?”

My sister explained, “It is more normal than you can imagine. That’s especially true these days because of the Great Depression. People feel scared of getting laid off and finding themselves without a dime in their pockets.”

“So, what should I do?” I asked.

Dealing With Fear Of Job Loss

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Face Your Fears

The main problem was that I wanted to avoid losing my job. Little did I know, it was causing my fears to grow, to the extent that it started eating me alive.

My sister encouraged me to face my problems early. The company’s bankruptcy was real, and there’s no other way to hide it. But even if I had to force myself to face my fears, I could say that it served me well, considering it helped me visualize my future more clearly.

Make A Backup Plan

On that same night, my sister ordered me not to sleep until I had a backup plan. She said, “It doesn’t have to be concrete; you just need to have an idea of what you’ll do with your life once your company falls apart.”

Sure enough, when the D-Day came, I was among the few employees who did not become hysterical when the bosses announced that our time was up. I merely packed my belongings and left.

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Learn To Accept It

Yes, nothing else can help you deal with the fear of job loss other than yourself. Any of your family members can enumerate the number of reasons why you should accept your pending unemployment. But be honest – will you listen to them?

When you learn to accept the situation, your fears may begin to dissipate, to the extent that you’ll find the courage to look for another job soon.

Final Thoughts

Since you are reading my blog now, I should let you know that I survived the Great Depression. The journey was rough, considering I lost my job in the process, but it was understandable. I got back on my feet and turned to business ventures, so there was no chance for me to feel scared of job loss again.+

 

Dealing with Your Irrational Fears

Almost all the people have a problem with their irrational fears, may these be fear of heights or fear of spiders, among other concerns that are unfounded. However, for people with a phobia, these fears go out of hand and then eventually make the person powerless and non-functional concerning their personal and professional lives.  

According to Clinical Psychologist Samantha Rodman, “Challenging irrational fears cognitively involves thinking out what would happen if these thoughts came to fruition, as well as assessing the real-world likelihood of the feared outcomes.”

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  Continue reading Dealing with Your Irrational Fears

How I Helped My Wife Deal With Tokophobia

There was an experiment where several men tried to feel the pain of childbirth. They had a machine placed on their abdomen to inflict and resemble the pain, and no one could bear the most intense level. Most of them pushed the button given to them which would indicate that they are giving up.

“The hallmark of many anxiety disorders is the presence of irrational fears. Some people who suffer from anxiety disorders know that their fears are irrational, and some don’t.” – Samantha Rodman, Clinical Psychologist.

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Continue reading How I Helped My Wife Deal With Tokophobia

Exposure Therapy: Phobias

“Simply put, 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.” – Nicole Martinez, PsyD. 

Living in fear is not living at all. It limits all the things we can do. Imagine having acrophobia or the fear of heights, aerophobia or the fear of airplanes, claustrophobia or the fear of enclosed spaces. These are some of the common phobias affecting a large number of Americans. These phobias could mean a person will always have trouble going to high places, riding an airplane, or riding an elevator. Nowadays, they could signify a lot of inconvenience as the world we live in now is innovative and full of these things. When you are in the corporate world, it is hard to avoid high places, airplanes, and elevators.

The child scares to death upon seeing the frog. Exposure therapy is exposing yourself to what scares you the most.
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Continue reading Exposure Therapy: Phobias

2015 Birmingham Therapy Workshop: Talking About Social Anxiety Disorder

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The 2015 Birmingham Therapy Workshop I went to, which taught me about extending assistance to people with anxiety, fears, and phobias, was truly helpful. I was still a college student then and was studying Psychology. I am a certified teen counselor now, but I think that workshop became my turning point of what I wanted to do with my life, career-wise.

I grew up with a sister who has Social Anxiety Disorder. For those who don’t know what this is, Social Anxiety Disorder is also known as Social Phobia. People with this issue are afraid to go out because they fear that others or the public will judge them, and they can’t take that. It is a phobia, and an anxiety disorder rolled into one. Yes, it is a very challenging issue to have because one mental health problem is a handful. Imagine that she had to struggle with two – anxiety and phobia.

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People with Social Anxiety Disorder have this fear of being assessed by others negatively. They dread that they will be rejected in a social setting. Of course, people with this issue are overly anxious and will manifest signs like stuttering when talking, trembling or shaking, and being shy or blushing. This is something that they cannot control. They do not want this for themselves, and nobody does since let’s face it, feeling this way isn’t the usual way. But for some people with issues, it happens. What we need to focus on now is finding solutions. One of the ways to overcome this problem is through counseling.

The workshop has taught me to assist people with the disorder on how to overcome the problem. I had to change the way I talked with my sister and with people similar to her, use a bit of humor when it gets tense, and of course, warmth and care. Learning about the possible triggers and how to address them outright made me a better sister and a learned counselor.

Since then, I have joined workshops and seminars in the area because it develops my skills – skills that can change people’s lives.

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.