Tips on how to deal with a paralysing phobia

Do you have an intense and persistent fear of something? You may be suffering from a phobia.

A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder, defined as an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something.

Read: Expert tips on how to raise babies and kids with anxiety

Psychotherapist and relationship expert Louisa Niehaus says phobias start at a young age and illicit feelings of dread or panic.

Niehaus says that a phobia can trigger fear even when an object or situation is merely imagined.

A phobia typically results in a rapid onset of fear and is present for more than six months, she explains.

Common clinical phobias include claustrophobia, monophobia, aerophobia, emetophobia, erythrophobia, aquaphobia, acrophobia and hypochondria.

Also read: 5 signs that you're a victim of passive aggressive behaviour

Some phobias can be co-morbid with panic disorder or depression and can often compromise a person's quality of life. She says people should not be ashamed of their phobias.

According to Niehaus, a phobia manifests through physiological and emotional symptoms.

These include:

  • racing heart
  • dry mouth
  • sweatiness
  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • irrational thoughts
  • extreme amounts of stress
  • feelings of paralysis
  • fainting

A phobia is an anxiety disorder.

Louisa Niehaus, trauma psychotherapist

It becomes phobic when even the imagined idea of the phobia can send you into a frenzy.

Louisa Niehaus, trauma psychotherapist

According to the diagnostic manual, DSM–5, the phobia has to present for at least six months to be classified as an anxiety disorder.

Louisa Niehaus, trauma psychotherapist

There are new phobias popping up all the time, given that out society changes so quickly.

Louisa Niehaus, trauma psychotherapist

Some people feel absolutely paralysed

Louisa Niehaus, trauma psychotherapist

Niehaus advises that some phobias can be treated using procedures such as gradual exposure therapy or cognitive behavioural therapy.

She says managing a phobia can improve other aspects of an individual's personal life.

Listen to the insightful discussion during the Family Matters segment:


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