Types of Phobias

Clowns are entertaining and humorous for many children. You on the other hand find them a blight on your existence. Any thoughts of those chuckling clowns sends you in a spiral of anxiety. You go out of your way to avoid seeing clowns in pictures, television, movies, posters, etc. You’re one of the unlucky few who suffer from coulrophobia or fear of clowns.

What is phobia?

A phobia is an irrational fear of an object, an event or a feeling. There are hundreds of phobias for every conceivable thing. It doesn’t matter if they seem harmless, to the person suffering from the phobia they are the deadly.

There are three common types of phobias:

1. specific phobias
2. social phobias
3. fear of public spaces or agorophobia.

People who have phobias often know that they are being irrational in their fear. The person avoids the source of the fear and have impaired ability to function because of this fear.

How a phobia develops has been the cause of debate among psychiatrists for years. It has been suggested that some phobias are passed down from parents to children. Childhood trauma may also contribute to future phobias. If you nearly drowned as a child then a fear of deep water may develop later on in life. 

Simple phobias

This type is about a single object, situation, or activity. Common examples are a fear of insects, heights, snakes, enclosed spaces, dentists or flying. If you have a simple phobia you might react with mild anxiety or even with panic when confronted with the prospect of facing source of your fear.

Complex phobias

The person who has social phobia has an overriding fear of being humiliated or criticized in social situations. This is more serious and can disrupt your life. You should seek professional help if you phobia has become too severe to control by yourself. If your agorophobia prevents you from leaving the house and turning down job offers then you may already have a disorder. 

How to treat phobias?

The common treatment for specific phobias is a form of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) called exposure therapy. Your therapist will slowly desensitize you to your fears. A coping technique will be taught such as meditation or breathing exercise for you to be able to handle the anxiety when you face the thing you fear.

For example if you are afraid of clowns your therapist may ask you to think of clowns repeatedly. Then it may progress to gradual exposure to clowns in pictures and it may go all the way to an actual visit to an amusement park or circus to interact with clowns. Medication is often prescribed for those suffering from social phobias. Prozac and other anti-depressants are the most common types of medication.

Tips to help you cope with your phobias:

Stress relief.

Your stress levels spike when you encounter your phobias. Practicing relaxation techniques, yoga, tai-chi or meditation can help you control your stress. Feeling better about yourself can make you deal with your fears better.

Examine all your fears.

Confronting the boogeyman under the bed will reveal it as nothing more substantial than a pile of clothes. Doing the same thing to your fears will show how little there is actually to fear from them.

Analyze where they come from and why you fear those things specifically. Instead of confronting the fear itself, face the root of the problem.

Break the downward spiral.

If you feel the onset of an anxiety attack focus on other things. You won’t have to go so far as punching your hand through a wall but do anything to distract you from your mental traps.

Rely on rationality.

Listen to your rational self. If you fear rabbits your fear may come from the thoughts that it may carry rabies. Try to rationalize against such an argument. Convince yourself that rabbits are cute, little animals who won’t bite your head off.

Separate yourself from the past.

Your fears may have been brought about by a specific incident in your past. Convince yourself that you are not the same person you were before.

If your fear was inherited from your parents work on not identifying yourself with them. Tell yourself that you are your own person and you do not want to be a copycat to their fears.

Stress Inoculation Training.

In the case of social phobia employ this technique to lessen your fear of public situations. Stress inoculation training requires you to run a sort of mental movie of the situation you are most afraid of but instead of your feared outcome of humiliation replace it with a more desirable one.

For example if you are deathly afraid of speaking in public imagine yourself doing so with resounding success. The more vivid your mental images the better. You may feel anxious thinking about your phobia but that is the idea. The more you repeat the images or movie the less your fear of the actual thing.