The feeling of fear is known to most normal healthy people, the common fear of real danger can even be beneficial. Recently, however, there are more and more people who cannot get rid of their fear in certain situations. Not only do they not manage it, but fear becomes a disease burden for them – they suffer from phobias.
Fear and anxiety are close
Fear is the fear of something specific. It is usually conditioned by a negative experience already experienced. This emotion is accompanied by, for example, hot flashes, heart palpitations, tremors, and changes in pressure. It is a response to real danger. Fear is often influenced by our imagination.
Anxiety, on the other hand, is a fear of something vague, often called “fear of nothing.” An anxious person tries to prepare in advance for all possible problems, which usually never occur. Anxious people always strive for 100% performance so as not to disappoint. The result is often a total breakdown of the organism.
Natural anxieties include the fear of abandonment. One of the first feelings of fear is experienced by a child at about eight months, at a time when he can physically move away from his mother. This separation poses a certain risk for him. Children who suffer from so-called separation anxiety then require the constant presence of the mother. At best, it is enough when it is in sight.
At about the age of ten, the child begins to realise that some things are finite, and begins to understand that the world will not be forever. He feels powerless because he cannot influence this fact on his own. Anxiety in adolescence is characteristic, when a young person is unable to fully participate and seeks answers to questions about what awaits him, where is he going?
What do you expect from fear?
When you have a fit of fear, the body’s adrenaline rises. When our ancestor met a member of another gang many hundreds of years ago, he had two options – to start fighting him, or to run away. His muscles tensed, his heart rate quickened, he breathed faster, his body was simply preparing for physical activity. We experience similar reactions with fear, fear or anxiety, our body also prepares for action … In this situation, do not try to be calm and relax. Exercise and exercise may help you “burn” the adrenaline. If you just can’t move, try to strain your muscles. Even the game burns the adrenaline muscles perfectly.
Tremor in public
Tremor is an uncomfortable feeling before performing in public. It should “dissolve” once it starts operating. If, on the other hand, it escalates and the person under its influence is unable to act, we speak of pathological fear.
If you are one of the tremors all your life, it is difficult to get rid of your fear from day to day. For example, if you are unable to appear in front of an expert forum, even though you have comparable knowledge, “train” with your friends or with people with whom you feel safe. If you manage to do this, continue …
If you feel frightened, try to do something that may catch your eye. Count backwards from 1000, concentrate on reading, speak out loud or take a deep breath, and at the same time count inhales and exhales.
Phobias make ordinary life impossible
A phobia is an anxiety accompanied by a morbid fear of a particular phenomenon, person, animal, or situation. A person who suffers from it is very uncomfortable with life, forcing him to perform certain activities that he would not otherwise do, or on the contrary, will not allow him to do certain common things. The Greek physician Hippocrates mentions morbid fear in the fourth century BC, but the classic description of phobia in today’s understanding was not made until the end of the 19th century by the German physician Westphal.
The term phobia comes from the Greek word phobia, which equals horror, terror. There are a number of things that people suffer from phobias, so various phobias have one more Greek word in the name before the word phobia, denoting that particular phobia object.
All phobias weaken and limit the affected individual, because he is bothered not only by the fear itself, but also by trying to avoid the situation that evokes it. This sometimes forces him to change his lifestyle. The sufferer is fully aware of his senseless fear, but is not able to suppress it of his own free will.
The symptoms of phobia are the same as the symptoms of absolute panic: the body enters a “fight or run” state, in which blood circulation speeds up and adrenaline levels rise as the body prepares to fight the enemy or escape. This process is characterized by a fast heartbeat and palpitations, muscle tension, sweating and nausea, or tremor throughout the body. The physical reaction can be so severe that the affected person may feel faint or even die of a heart attack or stroke.
Causes of phobias
There are several theories that explain the emergence of phobias. According to some, phobias may arise as a result of an unpleasant experience from an object with which the patient is now afraid.
Some experts believe that phobias can also be hereditary, as there is evidence that a person is far more likely to suffer from phobias if the disorder also occurs in the family. But in such a case, it can also be learnt behavior – ie fear observed from someone close to us.
School phobia manifests itself in the rejection of learning and school in general. It occurs in children with social anxiety disorder (irrational fear of certain specific subjects and situations). It is sometimes related to the aforementioned separation anxiety, which usually occurs after a traumatic event in a child’s life (moving, parental divorce, death in the family, etc.). School phobias can often develop in children who are too demanding.
Psychologists divide phobias into two types
Simple phobias are caused by specific objects or situations, such as fear of birds (ornitophobia) or fear of heights (acrophobia). These specific (isolated) phobias are among the most common mental disorders (10 to 20%), affecting women twice as often as men. Some often start in early childhood (eg phobias from animals around 4 years old), while situational phobias are only around thirty.
Complex or social phobias are less common, but they are much more serious and can significantly affect and limit the life of the victim. For example, agoraphobia (fear of open space) manifests itself in the person being afraid to leave the house. Elevators, tunnels, restaurants and crowded vehicles are a nightmare for people suffering from claustrophobia (fear of confined spaces).
People who are afraid of contact with other people suffer from social phobias. It can be an isolated phobia (eg fear of public speaking) or a complex phobia where concerns concern most social contacts.
Social phobias develop in almost half of patients before the age of 10, and in the rest of patients before the age of 20. Men and women are affected equally. Early development of difficulties causes serious developmental problems: the ability to learn, to establish partnerships.
Treatment of phobias is necessary
Today, many people suffer from fears, anxieties and depression, but few give them enough weight to consult an expert.
Phobias are considered to be quite common disorders – about one in eighteen people suffers from them. Of course, we don’t know the exact number, because many people find it uncomfortable to see a doctor because something scares them.
Psychotherapy is based on Freud’s idea that there is a connection between repressed emotions and phobia. Freud argued that, as with many forms of mental illness, phobias are caused by a process of repression, in which there is an internal struggle between what one really wants and what is constantly instilled in him that he should not do. In such a situation, the affected person will reflect the fear of acting in a socially unacceptable or unpleasant way. The repressed emotions that led to the phobia must be discovered first, and then the patient must be confronted. Then the psychotherapist can try to help the patient cope with the situation and remove the source of eternal fear.
Other methods of treatment
Psychologists from an American university are proposing to treat phobias with virtual reality. For their new method, they use games (similar to computer ones) with good sound effects, where the actors feel that everything that is happening is real. With the help of such a game, it is possible to create thunder and lightning for those who are afraid of storms, to put those who are afraid to fly on a plane.
A controversial technique called flooding does not take gradual steps in the fight against phobia, but confronts the patient with a fear-inducing object or puts him in a fear-inducing situation for a long time, giving him no chance of escape. This method of exposure is said to be far more effective than the gradual habituation alternative.
Some experts also suggest that a change in eating habits may help. As proof, we could consider that many people suffering from phobias drink very large amounts of coffee or eat sweet candies and cakes – these are all products that can induce feelings of stress and anxiety.