Phobias and Intense Fears
Our counsellors at Curio Counselling work in a variety of different therapeutic modalities (like somatic therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, exposure therapy, etc.) that can be adapted to best suit your needs and work through your phobias.
What are Phobias?
Phobias are intense fears of specific things or situations. This goes beyond a typical fear response, as the fear is persistent, excessive, and exposure to the trigger creates an anxiety response or panic.
Phobias are considered a type of anxiety disorder. People may have phobias of specific things (like snakes), people (like doctors), situations/environments (like crowded spaces), or activities (like flying in an airplane).
There are different things that may trigger a person’s phobia such as being directly exposed to their fear, thinking about the fear, or anticipating being exposed to the fear.
Some phobias may begin as children and last for a limited period of time, while others may extend into or begin in adulthood and be more difficult to manage.
What are the Effects of Phobias?
Phobias can have significant effects on day to day life. Some people may make drastic changes to how they go about their lives based on their phobias. They may also be comorbid with other mental health challenges like anxiety and depression. Here are some of the ways that phobias may show up in your life:
- Avoidance: People may take great lengths to avoid being exposed to their phobia. This might look like driving extremely long distances to avoid flying, not going to the doctor, and avoiding specific places or social situations, among others. Avoidance may cause disruptions to daily life.
- Emotions: Phobias can cause intense feelings of fear and anxiety that may be out of proportion to the actual threat. For example, someone might feel incredible distress or have a panic attack triggered by a phobia like riding on a train, which would not likely pose an actual serious threat. People may also feel shame or embarrassment associated with their phobia, or a feeling of impending doom.
- Physical Symptoms: Phobias can bring on many anxiety-related effects that can show up in our bodies including difficulty breathing, changes in body temperature, dizziness, nausea, dry mouth, racing heartbeat, shaking, sweating, digestive upset, or increased blood pressure. These symptoms can be very unpleasant, and again may interfere with people’s day to day lives.
- Cognitive Symptoms: Anxiety caused by phobias also has effects on our thinking and mental abilities. People may experience symptoms like confusion, and racing or persistent thoughts about the fear (for example, thoughts of a plane crashing).
People may find that the effects of their phobia disrupts their lives such as affecting their home life, work, relationships, school, or other parts of daily functioning.
How Can Therapy Help with Phobias?
Therapy can be very helpful in treating phobias. You can learn about your specific phobia and the associated fear response, which may be helpful in decreasing the unknown around your phobia.
You can also learn and practice coping strategies to manage anxiety symptoms. There are also forms of therapy including cognitive-behavioural therapy, exposure therapy, and EMDR that can be very helpful in addressing the phobia specifically.
Therapy may be able to help decrease the distress you experience and any disruptions to your daily life. Phobias are sometimes caused by traumatic experiences, and trauma therapy may be able to help with processing these experiences.
Our counsellors at Curio Counselling work in a variety of different therapeutic modalities (like somatic therapy, EMDR, cognitive behavioural therapy, exposure therapy, etc.) that can be adapted to best suit your needs and work through your phobias.
Book a free consultation today to get support and help with your phobia.
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References & Further Reading
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. (n.d.). Specific phobias. https://www.camh.ca/en/health-info/mental-illness-and-addiction-index/phobias
Cherry, K. (2023, February 13). List of phobias: Common phobias from a to z. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/list-of-phobias-2795453
LeWine, H. E. (2022, March 9). Phobia. Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/phobia-a-to-z
Moore, M. (2022, October 11). A comprehensive list of phobias. PsychCentral. https://psychcentral.com/disorders/list-of-phobias#common-phobias