Thursday, October 22, 2015


Phobia is an unrelenting fear of a situation, activity or thing that causes one to want to avoid it.  It is estimated that 6 million people in the United States have phobias.  Women tend to be twice as likely to suffer from them.  Alcoholics can be up to 10 times more likely to have a phobia than those who are not alcoholics.  Phobic individuals can be twice as likely to suffer from alcoholism or other addictions than those who never been phobic.  It has been found that phobic anxiety can be life-threatening for some people increasing the risk of suffering from heart disease in both men and women.  There are three classes of phobias.  Social: Fear of public speaking, meeting new people or other social situations.  Agoraphobia:  Fear of being outside.  It often coexists with panic disorder.  Specific Phobias:  Fear of other items or situations.  Some common phobias are:  Closed-in spaces (Claustrophia)  Clowns (Coulrophobia)  Flying (Aerophobia)   Blood  Animals (Zoophobia)  Spiders (Arachnophobia).  Treatment for specific phobias may include one or a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy, medication or relaxation techniques.  Cognitive behavioral therapy called systematic desensitization or exposure therapy in which patients are gradually exposed to what frightens them until their fear begins to fade.  Medicines, such as Activan or Xanax, may be given on an as-needed basis.  Occasionally, serotonergic anti-depressants, such as Paxil, may have potential value.  Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, may also reduce anxiety symptoms.  For most people, specific phobias can be successfully treated with therapy and in some cases medication.

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