Phobias: What Are They

Phobia means a persistent, irrational fear of a situation, an object, or activity that the person feels compelled to avoid. Many people have phobias. There are many types of phobias but all phobias fit in a category. There are three categories of phobias, social phobia, Agoraphobia, and specific phobia.

Agoraphobia is the most likely of the three to send someone for professional help. People who have agoraphobia has an intense fear of being in a situation where they can't escape quickly or help couldn't get to them quickly , if they needed it. Which will cause them to have a panic attack or panic like symptoms. Some of the feared places are like busy streets, crowded restaurants, or crowded stores. Some people who have agoraphobia plan their lives around there fears. In some severe cases of agoraphobia, people will not even leave there home. Studies have shown that women are four times more likely to have agoraphobia than men. After one has a panic attack, they avoid the places they fear because they fear having another attack. People who have family members with agoraphobia have a higher chance of getting it. The closer the relative, the higher your chance. Some agoraphobia have successfully been treated with antidepressants and psychotherapy.

Social phobia causes people to avoid public places. People who suffer from social phobia are afraid of any social or performance situation. They are scared they may humiliate themselves. Studies have shown that about one-third of people with social phobia only have a fear of publicly speaking and the rest may fear eating or writing in public. Studies also show that social phobia will affect about 15.5% of women and 11.1% of men in some point of their life. Genetic factors also play a role in social phobia. Often people who have social phobia will turn to alcohol or tranquilizers to make it easier on them when they have to be in social situations.

A fear of a specific object or situation is specific phobia. Those who have specific phobias usually fear the same things others fear, but their fears are greatly exaggerated. Specific phobias could be storms, water, heights, airplanes, animals, closed spaces, and many more things.

To be considered a phobia, a person must fear something enough that it will cause interference or great distress to their life in a major way. People with phobias experience intense anxiety, even to the point of screaming or shaking. According to researchers genes play a role in all categories of phobias. There are many types of phobias and many people are affected by phobias.…

When Fear Turns to Phobia

Although we often think of childhood as a time to be carefree, fear and anxiety are common experiences for nearly every child at some point or another. Whether it is fear of the dark, separation anxiety in a toddler, or fear of a specific event or object such as going to the dentist or seeing a dog across the street, being afraid is simply a part of the human experience. For most children, these moments are fleeting and easily managed by the loving reassurance of a parent or caregiver, but for others common fears such as these can become debilitating experience that need more attention.

Fear and its accompanying physical responses are like a fire alarm system. Like a smoke detector, our bodies are designed to perceive danger, emotional and physical, and send out an alarm (the physical and emotional responses) to alert us that we may be in danger. As anyone who has been scared by a movie or startled by a slamming door knows, sometimes we get the warning even when the danger isn't real. For most of us, that happens occasionally but in general our fear response is manageable and important, keeping us from dangerous situations. For a child with a phobia the fire alarm system has become hypersensitive to a specific trigger- like a sprinkler system that goes off every time you light a candle. The response is excessive in relationship to the perceived danger. Whether it is a paralyzing fear of a real but minimally dangerous situation such as a larger dog or a fear of something that does not pose a real threat such as thunderstorms, the internal experience of fear is real and must be addressed. The key is to help your child understand first that fear, however difficult to manage, is a valuable emotion and not one that we want to dismiss.

As adults, when we see a child with what we believe is an irrational or excessive fear our first instinct is often to minimize their experience. The desire to relieve your child's panic often triggers a very logic response in parents but before you try to convince your child that their fears are unfounded or silly, start by talking about the role fear plays in keeping them safe. Teaching children to evaluate the danger of a situation is an important part of treating their phobia but it is also crucial that you do not send the unintentional message that their fear can not or should not be trusted. Although in this situation fear has become distorted, in general we want our children to listen to their fears. Fear is that uneasy feeling that they may get around a stranger or when watching a friend try something risky at the playground- it is their first line of safety when you are not around and it is important to remind them of that.

The next step is to help your child understand that they can be in control of their response to fear. It is not necessary for them to ignore their fear and the automatic physiological response that it creates in order to regain control. Instead children can learn to identify the physical cues that tell them they are beginning to feel fearful and then learn to calm their bodies and their minds. It can be helpful to get your child to keep a feelings journal for a week or two (maybe longer depending on how often they encounter their specific phobia). As parents we are often aware of our children's responses to fear and anxiety; whether its a stomachache or …