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Living In The Shadow Of Fear

Have you experienced an intense fear of a certain object, animal, or person that you'll do anything just to avoid coming into contact with it? Does this fear overwhelm you to a point that you cannot function normally? You may be part of the 8.7 to 18.1% of the American population that's suffering from phobia. The word phobia was derived from the Greek word Phobos which means fear. It is an intense, persistent fear of certain situations, activities, objects, or persons. It usually manifests as an extreme, unreasonable desire to avoid the feared subject.

This differs from normal fear as it already interferes with a person's regular daily life. This mental condition falls under one of the anxiety disorders. And this condition is common among women in different age groups, and it is the second most common mental illness among men older than twenty-five. Most psychologists and psychiatrist classify most phobias into three categories, these are: l Social phobias This is a phobia involving other people or social situations wherein there is an intense fear of being scrutinized by other people. This may include activities such as performing or eating in public.

This type of phobia may be further subdivided into:  General social phobia. This is also know as social anxiety disorder.  Specific social phobia. This type of phobia is triggered only by specific situations. l Specific phobias. These are fears of a single specific panic trigger caused by a lot of different things such as insects, animals, places, and things. l Agoraphobia. This is a generalized fear of leaving a person's comfort zone or a small, familiar “safe” area. These three sub-types of phobias are sub-groups of anxiety disorders. The severity of these different phobias vary from person to person.

Some sufferers simply avoid their specific subject of fear and experience only a relatively mild anxiety attack over their fears. Others suffer full-fledged panic attacks with all its associated physical symptoms. A lot of these individuals are aware that they are suffering from an irrational, unfounded fear, but feel that they have no power to overcome their initial panic reaction. There are different treatments used to treat phobias. The most commonly used treatments are: l Medications. Anti-anxiety drugs or anti-depression medications may help sufferers control their anxiety attacks over the subject of their fears. These medications are often prescribed for short-term use to prevent forming a dependency on the medication. l Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This treatment may prove beneficial as it helps patients understand the cycle of their negative thought patterns. This treatment also aims to teach patients how to get over their fears and face the objects of their fear.

l Desensitization. This treatment uses the aid of virtual reality or imagery exercises to neutralize a person's fear of a certain object. This is done in a controlled environment to ensure the safety of the patient being treated. Phobias, if unmanaged or left untreated, may end up taking over one's life and destroying it in the long run. Ignoring it will not make it go away, it may end up worsening the condition. Step up and face your fears, seek professional help, and you will live a fear-free life.


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