Fighting Phobias: The Things That Go Bump in the Mind

  • By Jennifer Mulder
  • 12 September 2019
  • 3 minute read
Fighting Phobias: The Things That Go Bump in the Mind | The Health Sessions

This article is written by Jessica Smith.

Phobias are anxiety disorders that instill fear or panic in your mind. A phobia causes excessive, irrational fear in an individual about an object, a creature, an event or a feeling. A person with a phobia gets panic attacks when faced with their source of fear. They shape their lives to avoid facing the things which they consider dangerous. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America states that phobia affects almost 18.1% of the US population every year.

There are three types of phobias:

  1. Specific Phobia: This affects nearly 8.7% of the US population. Women are more susceptible to have a specific phobia.  There are further categories of Specific phobia, namely:  fear of natural environment, situational phobia, blood-injection-injury phobia, and animal phobia. There are more than 350 types of phobia in these four categories, like the fear of snakes, dogs, flying, driving, heights, darkness, storm, needles and blood.
  2. Social Phobia:It is a form of social anxiety where people have a fear of public embarrassment and humiliation that can disrupt a healthy life. Men are more likely to have social phobia than women. Another common social phobia is the fear of public speaking. The other concerns related to social phobia are of talking to strangers, being judged by others, and drinking at public places.
  3. Agoraphobia:This is the most disabling of all phobias. It is the fear of being trapped in a place where immediate escape is not possible. People with agoraphobia avoid crowded places because of the fear that they might get panic attacks if they can’t escape. They prefer staying at home to avoid a social situation. People with chronic health issues have a fear of need for a medical emergency in public places or trapped rooms.

Fighting Phobias: The Things That Go Bump in the Mind | The Health Sessions

How Can You Fight Phobias?

Not all phobias cause stress or affect your life. If your phobia doesn’t disrupt your life much, then you don’t have to worry about it. But if your phobia interferes with your daily life routine, then it’s time to fight your phobia. Phobia is treatable with the help of professional care. Some standard approaches are:

  1. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

CBT or cognitive-behavioral therapy is an effective treatment that focuses on specific symptoms, emotional and behavioral problems. In this method, the therapist, doctor, or counselor helps the patient to identify and understand the nature of their fear. It then helps in altering the misconceptions and develops a sense of confidence attached to the specific phobia.

CBT also teaches them to control their thoughts and feelings when the phobia is active. It helps the patients in better coping with their phobia and slowly overcoming it. Over some time, patients approach the specific fear with a positive thought.

  1. Medication

Medications are safe and powerful in treating a phobia, along with therapy. Depending on the severity of the phobia symptoms, the medication can be either short-term or long-term. However, to find the right drug that works for you needs time and patience.

There are four major types of medications used in treating anxiety disorders. Benzodiazepines and Tricyclic Antidepressants are effective against short-term specific phobias. Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs) are suitable for Neurotransmitter-receptor abnormalities like a social phobia.

Fighting Phobias: The Things That Go Bump in the Mind | The Health Sessions

  1. Complementary and alternative treatment

CAM or Complementary and alternative medicine, is growing in popularity with health care professionals looking for other ways to treat depression, anxiety, and mental health disorders. Physicians and mental health providers use stress and relaxation techniques, meditation, and yoga as a CAM treatment for anxiety.

Relaxation techniques like deep breathing help patients get short-term relief from tension. Research shows that relaxation therapy is useful to reduce negative emotions and symptoms of depression and phobia. Yoga combines all the practices in CAM, i.e., good posture, breathing exercises, distinct philosophy, and meditation. Especially for people who have agoraphobia, in addition to using medication and behavioral therapy, CAM can be useful.

  1. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

TMS is a non-drug, safe and noninvasive technique that helps alleviate anxiety disorders and effectively helps people in unlearning fears.Research has found that TMS is a useful technique in treating anxiety disorders and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is a pain-free technique that uses an electromagnetic coil to induce small electric current targeting specific areas of the brain.

A TMS treatment lasts for about 40 minutes. Patients can read a book, watch TV, and play video games while undergoing this treatment. Depending on your symptoms, your doctor will adjust the energy distribution through the procedure.


You must treat phobia if it is bothering your healthy life. The good news is your phobias are treatable. It can be challenging to control the feelings and emotions, but with the right treatment, you can manage your fears and lead a fulfilling life. While going through the procedure, you might feel the negative emotions coming back. Make sure that you be in open communication with your counselor or doctor. Eventually, you will feel more confident, secure, and happy.

Many recovery centers have treatment programs that help in combating phobia. Talk to your therapist to learn more about these programs and how it can be helpful for you.

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