Phobias are very common and can be related to a wide variety of triggers. The severity of phobias also varies; some are mild and manageable in every day life, whilst others involve debilitating anxieties. Are you in control of fear or has it begun to dominate your life?

All of us experience fear and in many cases this is rational and helps to keep us safe. For example, lots of people are afraid of heights to some degree. This is our body’s way of informing us that we are in potential danger. The fear of heights stops people from doing reckless things without the correct safety precautions. In essence, our fear helps to keep us safe from harm. However, when a fear begins to inhibit our daily lives, and moves from being rational to irrational, it is a phobia. There are many different types of phobias. This includes common phobias such as, agoraphobia; fear of leaving home/a safe place and fear of social situations, arachnophobia; fear of spiders, and claustrophobia; fear of small spaces and not being able to escape. Phobias can also develop around less common fears, including beards, bridges, germs, and numbers. Modern phobias have emerged like the fear of being out of mobile phone contact. Whatever the focus may be, phobias can have significant impact on our lives.

How Phobias Can Harm Us

Phobias can harm us when they start to affect how we live our lives. If you find yourself avoiding certain items, or situations, the phobia has become harmful, specifically if you spend a lot of time worrying about it. Phobias are damaging to our mental health. Depression is common amongst phobia sufferers, along with other anxiety disorders. Obsessive compulsive disorder and anorexia nervosa have been known to develop, particularly if the sufferer has a phobia of dirt, germs, and infection. Phobias can also harm our physical health. A poor diet or lack of appetite can develop, again if the phobia is related to germs. Or phobias surrounding leaving the house, weather conditions, social phobias, or phobias to do with the outdoor environment could impact on our ability to go and buy food, and to get the exercise we need to remain physically healthy. Many of us suffer from panic attacks if our phobia is triggered; this is another damaging physical manifestation of the phobia. Phobias can also harm other areas of our lives, for example, our ability to work. How could someone with agyrophobia; fear of roads and crossing the road venture out to a daily job? There are infinite examples of ways in which phobias can harm us. Each individual sufferer will have their own difficulties and problems.

Effects of Phobias on Other Relationships

Phobias do also affect external relationships. Let us look at the example of agoraphobia. As I have already briefly mentioned, this is the fear of leaving a safe place, often the home, fear of social situations, crowds, open spaces, and outdoors. Agoraphobia can often be linked to, or stem from, the fear of embarrassing or humiliating oneself in front of others. This phobia can have a huge effect on the ability to socialize with existing friends, and the ability to meet new people. If the phobia develops over a period of time, old friendships could be lost or damaged because people might not understand the reason behind the change, and the lack of desire to venture out. Over time sufferers can grow to be isolated and lonely, which can lead to depression. Other phobias also affect relationships, for example xenophobia; the fear of aliens/foreigners, and anthropophobia; fear of people and society. Even phobias surrounding objects or food will impact on relationships, a sufferer may be unable to make the journey to a friends’ house because there is a trigger on route, or they will not be able to enjoy everyday activities such as eating out or having popcorn at the cinema. If the phobia alters the way you live it is also affecting your relationships.

How Therapy Can Help

If you are a phobia sufferer it may be time to seek help. If your phobia seems to be controlling your thoughts and actions, and you feel it is having a negative impact on your life, therapy or counselling could relieve you of these issues. We all need to discuss the fears we face, whether they are common phobias, or bizarre fears that seem impossible for someone else to understand. At your own pace, you will be encouraged to face your fears and eventually overcome them. The sessions can work quickly and provide a strong basis from which you can gain control of your life again. There is no need to feel alone, or embarrassed, because of your phobia. They are very common. Therapy can give you the tools to stop fears and anxieties in their tracks, and return to normal life.

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