Phobia, from the Greek word meaning “ fear “ , are irrational and persistent fears which are out of all proportion to the actual risk or danger involved ,having fears is a normal and necessary part of growing up – away of avoiding unnecessary danger .
Being afraid of spiders to the extent that you will not enter a house in case there is a spider , there is abnormal , the most common phobias include agora phobia ( fear of leaving home or a safe base ) , claustrophobia ( fear of being shut in ), social phobias ( fear of social situations ) , animal phobias ( terror of insects , mice , animals etc., fear of contracting cancer or AIDS and seeking constant reassurance from doctors ( with demands for regular blood tests ) , that you have not got the disease in question , phobias are relatively common in both men and women , but the degree of severity can vary enormously .
Although there may be hereditary predisposition , it is felt that the majority of phobias are learned from our parents or are the result of a particular psychological problem or event in early childhood .
The subjects of phobias are commonly avoided by people who suffer from them , but this avoidance may escalate into dysfunction and people can be trapped in their own homes , or be unable to travel or visit a particular part of the country , for fear of encountering the cause of their phobia .
Anxiety symptoms from mild palpitations through to panic attacks , hysterical symptoms and death , have been known to occur if the person is confronted with the phobic cause .
PREVENTION AND SELF-HELP
Some times people are ashamed to admit their problem and will cover up to avoid the same and guilt they feel , thus avoiding the possibility of help .
The major successful approach to managing phobic symptoms is a form of desensitization that can be undertaken at home as well as by a clinically trained , psychologist , the desensitization program involves increasing the awareness of the phobia i.e., by writing down when where how and why you feel phobic .describe the symptoms you feel and grade each symptom ; 0(none )to 5 ( very bad ) , the cause of the phobia is then , introduced in a minimal way , it could be a picture of a storm ,or a spider or it may be in the form of someone who simply repeats the feared word , you are then asked to record all the symptoms you feel in relation to the stimulus , the next stage involves you learning how to modify the symptoms through some form of relaxation or breathing exercise . you are also given a number of other possible strategies to adopt once you have encountered your phobia , these can include a muscle relaxing exercise , a visualization exercise or a “ cognitive reframing “ sentence e.g., I am terrified but I will get over it in time “ I think I will never get over this , but this is just a feeling . in time I will get over this , cognitive reframing is the technical term for retraining the mind , the popular term “ positive thinking “ is some times used instead .
This step by step exercise is repeated two or three times a day and gradually the stimulus is increased in intensity until the actual object of the phobia is confronted . this has been used successfully as a way of expressing . This has been used successfully as a way of expressing the irrational fears on paper which reduces their intensity , once the phobia has been confronted , its hold over the imagination can start to be relaxed .
Certain self help homoeopathic measures can be tried :
Agoraphobia — —- Aconite 200,three times a day for ten days
Claustrophobia — Argentum Nitricum 200, three times a day for ten days
Or pulsatilla 200, three times a day for ten days .
Tranquilizers may be prescribed as way of dealing with short time anxiety , but their long term use should be avoided as they are addictive , a desensitization program as described in the prevention and self help section is general recommendation.