The cross-national lifetime and one-year prevalence rate of specific phobias is 7.4% and 5.5%, respectively, and it’s higher in women than in men, based on a study by NCBI. Living with a fear of something can be stressful. It forces you to spend most of your time worrying that a feared situation or item might occur anytime, even though you don’t encounter it every day. If not managed, phobias can impact your mental and emotional health significantly. Phobias make you feel helpless, cause severe anxiety, and leave you feeling embarrassed. Fortunately, there are practical ways to overcome your phobias, including medication. Read on to learn more about treatment options for managing and overcoming phobias.
Typically, psychotherapy is the most preferred treatment option for specific phobias such as agoraphobia, social phobia, and the fear of insects, heights, and thunderstorms. However, there are instances when therapists recommend medication to help reduce symptoms associated with phobias. It is important to note that doctors may use medicines during the initial treatment of phobias or short-term use to help patients cope with fear in situations like flying or medical procedures. Common medicines prescribed for specific phobias are anti-depressants, beta-blockers, and benzodiazepines. Each one of these medicines is unique but aims to reduce anxiety levels. For instance, beta-blockers lower adrenaline’s effects like high blood pressure, shaking limbs, and elevated heart rate caused by anxiety. On the other hand, benzodiazepines are perfect for treating anxiety caused by fear.
Although researchers are not sure what causes specific phobias, doctors believe learned behaviors and environmental triggers cause them. They argue that it’s possible to manage phobias by unlearning learned behaviors towards a trigger. This argument favors psychotherapy treatment which involves cognitive-behavioral therapy and exposure therapy. Generally, cognitive-behavioral therapy helps you overcome your fears by teaching you how to eliminate negative thoughts that trigger phobic reactions. As the name suggests, exposure therapy entails exposing yourself to situations or objects that you fear most. For example, if you fear swimming or water, spending time near large water bodies or even pools can help you overcome aquaphobia. However, before exposing yourself to situations that trigger phobic reactions, you must visualize. In this case, imagine yourself swimming and having fun splashing water all over. Doing so helps you gain the confidence to enroll in swimming lessons where you’ll learn how to prevent the risks of drowning and swim safely.
While therapies and medication are effective, mental health experts and patients tend to experiment with alternative treatments to manage phobias. Note that these treatments are not first-line options as they present some side effects. So, before choosing herbal remedies, homeopathy, and hypnotherapy for specific phobias, consult your doctor. That way, you can be sure your desired alternative therapy is perfect for your health needs.
Phobias are common mental disorders that affect your mental and emotional health in many ways. That’s why it’s essential to seek medical help to overcome your fears and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Depending on how severe your phobias are, doctors will prescribe medication, therapies, and in some cases, hypnotherapy or homeopathy.