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Fears and Phobias

A phobia is an overwhelming, debilitating fear of an object, place, situation, feeling or animal. They develop when a person has an exaggerated sense of danger about something and organizes their life in order to avoid their fear/phobia.

A phobia is seen to be a type of anxiety disorder. This means that there can be an overwhelming need to avoid any situation where there would be contact with the source that brings on fear and anxiousness.

Phobias affect different people in different ways. Some people only react with mild anxiety when confronted with the object of their fear, while others experience severe anxiety or have a severe panic attack.

Types of phobia can be categorized into simple and complex phobias.

Panic attacks are common among people with phobias. They can be very frightening and distressing. The symptoms often occur suddenly and without warning.

As well as overwhelming feelings of anxiety, a fear and or a phobia can cause physical and psychological symptoms, such as:

Physical symptoms:

  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Hot flushes or chills
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • A choking sensation
  • Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
  • Chest pain or a feeling of tightness in the chest
  • A sensation of butterflies in the stomach
  • Nausea
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Feeling faint
  • Numbness or pins and needles
  • Dry mouth
  • Ringing in your ears
  • Feeling confused or disorientated

Psychological symptoms:

  • Fear of losing control
  • Fear of fainting
  • Feelings of dread
  • Fear of dying

Talking treatments are often very effective for people with phobias. There are several different types of talking therapy including:

  • Counselling: a trained counsellor listens to your problems, such as feeling anxious in certain situations, and helps you to overcome them.
  • Psychotherapy: a psychotherapist uses an in-depth approach to find the cause of your problem and suggests ways to deal with it.
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy: a type of counselling that explores your thoughts, feelings and behaviour to develop practical ways of effectively dealing with the phobia.
  • Relaxation techniques: a series of physical exercises that may help you relax and control your breathing. Taking up yoga or Pilates can help with physical exercise while encouraging controlled breathing in a calm and relaxing environment.
  • Visualisation: combines relaxation and breathing techniques with mentally visualising how you will successfully deal with a situation that could cause anxiety.

* The contents of this condition is for information purposes only.