Edited by Jill Wright,
This post is from one of Psychology Melbourne's psychologists, Natalie-Mai Holmes.
Phobias are much more common than you probably think. No fewer than 11 per cent of Australians are thought to suffer from an extreme, irrational and frequently debilitating fear of something that most people consider harmless.
Fear is a natural response to real danger, stopping us from doing risky things and preparing the body to run or defend itself. A phobia, on the other hand, quite frequently provokes the sort of terror that renders people incapable of either response – not that physical action is generally appropriate.
Some of the more common phobias that sufferers will go to extreme lengths to avoid include:
Phobias can have long-lasting psychological and physical effects and 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 response.
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.
Psychologists have successfully helped thousands of people overcome deeply embedded phobias. They most commonly employ exposure therapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Exposure therapy involves repeated, gradually heightened controlled exposure to the source of a phobia, and the thoughts and reactions that accompany it.
Being AWARE can help people manage phobias.
The AWARE model provides five useful steps to help people manage the anxiety caused by phobias:
If you need some help managing your phobias contact Psychology Melbourne to arrange support in breaking the cycle of avoidance and change your relationship with anxiety.