A Phobia is excessive fear of something. These fears can arise when facing a situation, being somewhere, or when seeing a particular animal. In conditions of severe phobias, sufferers will try to avoid objects that can trigger fear. Phobias are actually included in anxiety disorders . This condition can make sufferers depressed, panic, and limit activities.
Phobias can be specific or complex. Examples of specific phobias include fear of water depth, height, animals, doctors, syringes, blood, or fear of contracting sexual diseases. While examples of complex phobias, including fear of social situations, fear of speaking in public, or fear of being in an open space. Most cases of specific phobias are experienced by sufferers from childhood or adolescence. While complex phobias generally begin to develop when the sufferer enters adult life.
Symptoms of Phobias
Signs of a phobia in a person can be easily recognized by the excessive fear reaction shown when looking at objects or facing certain situations. In addition to excessive fear, phobias can also be accompanied by panic attacks characterized by:
- Disorientation or confusion.
- Dizziness and headache .
- The chest feels tight and painful.
- Hard to breathe.
- Heart rate increases.
- The body trembles and sweats.
- Ears ringing.
- The sensation of wanting to urinate always.
- The mouth feels dry.
- Crying constantly and afraid to be left alone (especially in children).
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Until now the cause of the phobia is not yet clear. Even so, there are several factors that are thought to be able to trigger this condition, including:
- Traumatic events or bad experiences . Phobias are often associated with previous traumatic events or bad experiences in childhood. For example, someone who has been confined when he was a child tends to be afraid of closed spaces when he grows up.
- Changes in brain function . Some specific phobias can be caused by changes that occur in brain function.
- Genetics and environment. Phobias can occur due to influence from the environment or family. For example, someone tends to experience a phobia if raised by parents who often experience anxiety.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Phobias
Phobias can usually be easily diagnosed by a doctor from the symptoms that lead to the condition, with strengthened by a history of the disease (including psychiatric), history of drug use, and history of social life of patients.
Treatment of phobias can be done through psychological therapy, one of which is effective cognitive behavioral therapy. This therapy helps patients change their perspectives and ways of behaving towards a problem. In the case of a phobia, the therapist will help the patient overcome fear through exposure or descentization techniques. With the technique of exposure to a feared object or atmosphere, fear is expected to gradually decrease so that in the end the patient can control the phobia he has experienced. For example, it is in patients who experience phobias of snakes. Initially, the patient will be asked to read the writing about the snake, then show the picture of the animal. The next stage is to visit the snake cage, which is continued by holding the reptile directly.
In addition to these techniques, the therapist will also teach patients the techniques to control themselves. For example, through relaxation techniques to help regulate calmness and breathing, or visualization techniques to imagine the success of overcoming a situation.
More effective results will be seen when several therapeutic techniques are combined with the support of a healthy lifestyle. For example, getting enough rest, eating healthy foods regularly, and diligently exercising.
In addition to therapy, symptoms of phobias can also be relieved by drugs. However, drugs are usually only given for a short period of time. Examples of drugs that your doctor might prescribe in case of a phobia are:
- Serotonin release inhibitors (SSRIs). This drug works by influencing one of the transmitter hormones in the brain, namely serotonin, which plays a role in creating and regulating moods.
- Beta blockers (beta blockers). Drugs that are usually used to treat hypertension and heart problems are given to inhibit reactions that arise from adrenaline stimulation due to anxiety, such as trembling sounds and bodies, palpitations, or increased blood pressure.
- Benzodiazepines. This drug is given to treat anxiety at a severe level. Usually benzodiazepine administration will be reduced gradually as conditions improve to avoid dependence.