Phobias

It is common that one may have fear or concern about certain situations, activities, places, organisms or a particular thing. One can go about naming hundreds of phobias that affect human beings, but in essence there are three main categories, according to the latest version of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders ( DSM-IV-TR ) phobias explained are: Specific or Simple Phobias, Social Phobia ( aka social anxiety disorder ), and Agoraphobia ( fear of being alone in a public place ).

You may know someone that has felt anxious about heights when standing on the edge of a cliff or scaffolding or screamed out loud when startled by the presence of a spider or snake. Fear is an unpleasant emotion and rational response triggered by these potential or perceived threats of danger, pain, or harm.

However, some individuals can react to a certain situation, activity, place, organism or a particular thing ( the phobic stimulus ) by irrationally exaggerating or imagining the potential or perceived threat of danger, pain, or harm. These individuals feel panic, fear, or terror that is completely out of proportion to the actual threat.

In some cases, the mere thought or sight of the phobic stimulus by orientation, mention, seen in a book, or seen on TV is enough to trigger a heightened reaction. These heightened reactions may be indicative of one’s specific phobia.

Individuals with phobias are often well aware that their state of panic, fear, or terror are exaggerated or irrational; however, express that they have little or no control over his or her automatic anxious reaction. These anxious reactions to phobias are often associated with panic attacks, during which an individual may experience overwhelming physical sensations that may include, but not limited to, chest pain, pounding-heat, nausea, dizziness, hot or cold flushes, perspiration, or choking.

CATEGORIES OF PHOBIAS

Phobias are generally classified into the following categories:

Specific or Simple Phobia

A ‘Specific Phobia’ is a lasting and unreasonable fear of a particular object or situation that evokes a specific reaction of intense anxiety in an individual or may cause an individual to avoid the object or situation. A Specific Phobia is caused by the presence or thought of a particular object or situation that usually poses little or no actual threat of danger, pain, or harm.

The distress that is associated with a specific phobia and/or his or her need to avoid the object or situation can significantly interfere with an individual’s ability to function ‘normally’.

Individuals with a Specific Phobia are often aware that their state of panic, fear, or terror are exaggerated or irrational; however, express that they are unable to control or overcome it.

There are five basic categories of specific phobia. There are five different types of specific phobias, based on the object or situation that is feared. These are:

  • Animal or Insect: This is the most common category of specific phobias and can be, but not limited to, a fear of dogs, mice, snakes, or spiders
  • Blood, Injection, or Injury: These involve a fear of seeing blood ( from a blood test injection ) or from physical trauma to the body ( invasive medical procedures or Injury from an accident ).
  • Natural Environment: Examples include, but are not limited to, a fear of storms, heights, water, cooking oil, human or animal waste, or germs.
  • Situational: These Specific phobias involve a fear of specific situations, such as flying, riding in a car, bus, or train, travelling over bridges or through tunnels, or being in a restricted space like a small room, cave, or elevator.
  • Other: These include a fear of falling down, a fear of loud sounds, and a fear of costumed characters, such as clowns.

Social Phobia

A ‘Social Phobia’ is a type of anxiety disorder that causes an individual to be anxious and lack self-conscience when thinking about or when engaged in certain social situations. An individual with a social phobia may have difficulty being in the presence of others, communicating or eating in front of others because of an overwhelming irrational fear of being judged, embarrassed, being singled out, scrutinised, or watched too closely. In extreme cases, a severe social phobia may cause an individual to avoid others in a reclusive manner, hiding away in his or her bedroom, home or apartment, or moving to a remote property for the purpose of seclusion.

Agoraphobia

The Earth Walk Community - Phobias explained AgoraphobiaAccording to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders ( DSM-IV-TR ), ‘Agoraphobia’ is said to be when an individual has an extreme or irrational fear of being alone in a public place, where the individual would perceive it to be difficult or embarrassing to flee an area if he or she felt panic due to stress, anxiety. An individual with Agoraphobia perceives the environment to be unsafe where every turn becomes a challenge to his or her exit and safety.

An individual with Agoraphobia would normally make an effort to avoid open spaces and crowded public places, such as busy airports, congested roadways, bridges or tunnels, sport-fan filled gymnasiums, packed clubs, bustling malls, crowded restaurants and cafes, prominent hectic tourist areas or places.

Those affected and infected with Agoraphobia will go to great lengths to avoid situations that make them venerable. In extreme cases, Agoraphobia may cause an individual to become reclusive, hiding away in his or her bedroom, home or apartment, or moving to a remote property for the purpose of seclusion.

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