Phobias

Definition

Is fear of spiders a phobia or a normal fear? Is being afraid to take the subway or bus a phobia? Does the child who refuses to go to school suffer from a phobia? How to distinguish phobias from a normal fear? Many questions, many different fears, hence the importance of trying to clarify some of these different fears that can sometimes significantly affect the quality of everyday life.

The term phobia refers to an excessive fear of a situation, a specific object or a particular circumstance. Fear and phobia are somehow differentiated by the intensity of the reaction (I am afraid of cats but I can stay in the room where there is a cat versus flee the room and avoid all places where I would risk meet a cat!).

People who suffer from phobia recognize their fears read about more phobias here https://itspsychology.com, but can not explain their origin, which is unreasonable. Their fears totally control them, unlike the majority of people who, although they have fears, such as fearing a job interview or sleeping alone at home, find strategies “to get through”. It is therefore the severity of this person’s inability to adapt to their environment that makes it possible to differentiate phobias from “normal fears”.

phobia

So there are many kinds of phobias. Agoraphobia, social phobia and specific phobias are the terms used to classify them.

agoraphobia is the fear of being in situations where it may be difficult to escape quickly or to get help, that of being alone outside the home, for example, in a crowd. The phobia by far the most disabling, agoraphobia restricts the movement of the person affected or requires for it an accompaniment outside his home. Many health professionals believe that agoraphobia is almost always accompanied by panic attacks. Different teams of researchers are trying to answer this question.

Social phobia is a significant, persistent fear of various social situations or situations where people have to perform. The person is concerned about their social interactions and is afraid of being in embarrassing situations where they could be judged, watched, humiliated. A patient suffers from a generalized social phobia when he avoids several social situations. The most common social phobias are speaking in front of a group, having a conversation, especially with an unknown person, or speaking with someone in authority. Other people with social phobia find it difficult to talk on the phone, eat or drink in front of people who watch them or to participate in activities where there may be an audience, such as sports activities or concerts. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between generalized social phobia and avoidant personality, the latter often manifesting itself from childhood.

A specific phobia  consists of a significant and persistent fear of a specific object or situation such as heights, animals, microbes, flights, elevators, injections or blood. The person suffering from specific phobia adopts avoidance behaviors, but she will accept to live, although with intense fear, some unavoidable situations. Most specific phobias begin at the end of adolescence or early adult life, except for fear of heights, which would be discernible from childhood.

Symptoms

A phobia is an irrational fear that leads to conscious avoidance of the situation, object or activity. In addition, the presence and / or anticipation of being placed in front of the phobic situation causes significant distress. Finally, exposure to the stimulus or phobic situation almost invariably causes an immediate anxiety response that can either trigger panic attacks or predispose to the development of panic attacks. It is however wrong to believe that phobias are always accompanied by panic attacks.

Anyone can, one day or another, develop phobias. Moreover, it is likely that many people suffer from phobias without seeking treatment: they adapt to their phobia by various mechanisms such as avoidance, have a “phobic companion”, or other mechanisms “adaptation”. This is not the case for all people with phobias: indeed, phobias can significantly affect the functioning and quality of daily life. They can lead to significant marital, family and social disorders. For example, a young man with generalized social phobia may have great difficulty finding a job because he is unable to cope with the selection interview, being unable to have a satisfying love life being unable to approach young women. He can be confined to living isolated, without social and emotional life.

It is important to note that children express their anxiety and / or fear very differently from adults. In fact, the child may cry out, cry, become boisterous or refuse to go out and have fun with other children. Careful observation of the child’s behaviors will often enable parents to identify and identify the object or situation of the child’s fear.

In addition, people with specific phobias are at risk of developing other anxiety disorders, depression, substance abuse such as drugs and / or alcohol. Indeed, the use of drugs and alcohol reduces their anxiety and thereby give them the illusion of being able to function better or cope with the phobic situation.

Phobias can even lead to dangerous behavior such as triggering a catastrophic reaction to a spider walking on the front windshield of a car in a person driving his car on a busy highway; endanger the health of people: a person suffering from blood phobia or injections may refuse or fail to pass certain medical examinations that would be necessary to make a diagnosis or treat a disease.

Who is affected?

7% suffered from social phobia. Young women (aged 15 to 24) were more likely than young men to report symptoms that met the criteria for social phobia. This proportion decreased in women with age. Nearly one in 10 Canadians under the age of 65 met the criteria for social phobia in their lifetime. The lifetime prevalence dropped significantly for the age group 65 and over. Women (1.0%) were twice as likely as men (0.4%) to report symptoms that met the criteria for agoraphobia. However, the sample was too small to allow an assessment of age prevalence. Young women (aged 15 to 24) were more likely than young men to report symptoms that met the criteria for social phobia. This proportion decreased in women with age. Nearly one in 10 Canadians under the age of 65 met the criteria for social phobia in their lifetime. The lifetime prevalence dropped significantly for the age group 65 and over. Women (1.0%) were twice as likely as men (0.4%) to report symptoms that met the criteria for agoraphobia. However, the sample was too small to allow an assessment of age prevalence. Young women (aged 15 to 24) were more likely than young men to report symptoms that met the criteria for social phobia. This proportion decreased in women with age. Nearly one in 10 Canadians under the age of 65 met the criteria for social phobia in their lifetime. The lifetime prevalence dropped significantly for the age group 65 and over. Women (1.0%) were twice as likely as men (0.4%) to report symptoms that met the criteria for agoraphobia. However, the sample was too small to allow an assessment of age prevalence. Nearly one in 10 Canadians under the age of 65 met the criteria for social phobia in their lifetime. The lifetime prevalence dropped significantly for the age group 65 and over. Women (1.0%) were twice as likely as men (0.4%) to report symptoms that met the criteria for agoraphobia. However, the sample was too small to allow an assessment of age prevalence. Nearly one in 10 Canadians under the age of 65 met the criteria for social phobia in their lifetime. The lifetime prevalence dropped significantly for the age group 65 and over. Women (1.0%) were twice as likely as men (0.4%) to report symptoms that met the criteria for agoraphobia. However, the sample was too small to allow an assessment of age prevalence.

The causes

According to the Government of Canada’s report “The Human Face of Mental Health and Mental Illness in Canada 2006, anxiety disorders result from the complex interplay of genetic, biological, cognitive, developmental and other factors, such as personal, socio-economic and emotional stress. or professional. Various theories have been advanced to explain the role played by these factors in the onset of disorders. The first theory is experiential. She postulates that fear can arise from a first experience, such as an embarrassing situation, physical or sexual assault, or witnessing a violent act. Subsequent experiences of a similar nature have the effect of reinforcing fear.

According to a second theory, related to cognition or reflection, the individual believes or expects that a given situation will take an embarrassing or dangerous turn. Such a phenomenon may be related to the presence of overprotective parents who continually warn the person against possible problems. A third theory is based on biological foundations. Research indicates that the amygdala, a structure located deep in the brain, is used to signal the presence of a threat and triggers a reaction of fear or anxiety. It also stores emotional memories and can intervene in the appearance of anxiety disorders. The children of adults with anxiety disorders are much more at risk than the general population, indicating the existence of a possible genetic trail.

Prevent and cure

Since people with specific phobias rarely present themselves for treatment, it is difficult to have all the relevant information on the evolution of specific phobias. However, they are considered to be one of the easiest to treat anxiety disorders, responding very well to exposure-based therapy. The use of the medication is rarely necessary. On the other hand, without treatment, specific phobias, whose onset is often in childhood, will tend to continue into adulthood, persist for several years without, however, showing any variation in intensity.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, individually or in groups, and pharmacological treatment are the two recommended approaches for the treatment of social phobia. According to the latest studies, both approaches would be nearly identical in effectiveness. However, it is recognized that the rate of relapse is lower with psychological treatment. Some patients will be able to receive both approaches simultaneously (combination therapy). According to the latest studies, combined treatment would not be more effective than other types of treatment. These are the antidepressants, which are the first choice pharmacological treatment. The doses used will be the same as those used to treat depression. It is difficult to predict the duration of pharmacological treatment,

Agoraphobia will be treated with the same approaches as those recommended for social phobia. However, the response to treatment is greater for a patient with agoraphobia than for the patient with social phobia.

Since treatment can greatly improve the quality of life of a person suffering from phobia, it is therefore justified to consult if one believes to suffer from any phobia. At first, it is important to consult a family doctor who can make the diagnosis, offer medication if necessary, and refer to more specialized services, its psychology or otherwise, depending on the severity of the phobia.