By Natalie-Mai Holmes,
There's a difference between fear and a phobia, says Psychology Melbourne psychologist, Natalie-Mai Holmes, who has a particular interest in this area.
She points out that when we feel fear, we are experiencing our body's natural response to actual danger. It can stop us from doing risky things and prepares the body to defend itself.
A phobia, however, is an extreme or irrational fear of a situation or an object that, in reality, poses no real danger.
People with phobias will go to extreme lengths to avoid something that most people consider harmless.
Some of the more common phobias include:
Phobias can affect quality of life – anxiety and avoidance behaviours
Phobias can have both long-lasting psychological and physical effects and can become so severe that they negatively impact a person’s quality of life.
People with phobias often realise that the fear is irrational but still can’t control their feelings.
When your imagination vividly exaggerates threats and dangers, the physical body instinctively responds to protect you from the catastrophes that you’ve imagined.
This fear can lead to anxiety, panic attacks, and a range of avoidance behaviours which have a detrimental impact on a person’s daily life.
Using the AWARE model to help manage your phobias
The AWARE model provides five useful steps to help you manage the anxiety caused by phobias:
For more information
Do you need some help managing a phobia?
Contact Psychology Melbourne to arrange support in breaking the cycle of avoidance and change your relationship with anxiety.