Are you afraid of snakes? Spiders? Open spaces?
We all know we shouldn’t let our fears control us, but sometimes very specific things will cause a spike in anxiety and an irrational fear.
This article will discuss seven common phobias and how to manage them.
Fear of Pests, Such as Snakes and Spiders
Even hardened criminals may have a severe phobia about tiny things, like a spider in the bathroom or a snake in the garden. In forensic psychology graduate programs, students have the opportunity to focus on a particular area of study. Many choose to study phobias because of their own fears of small creatures. Spiders and snakes are often-mentioned pests that produce anxiety and fear in many people. Some of this might come from cultural connotations or bad experiences as a child. To manage your fear of snakes or spiders, see if you can get used to a toy spider or snake. You could also watch a TV show featuring them. This may desensitize you to the actual creatures.
Fear of Heights
A fear of heights, also called acrophobia, may cause anxiety attacks and a feeling of vertigo when in glass elevators or other high places. While a fear of heights is helpful — it’s one of the things that keeps most children from playing on roofs or too far up in trees — if it’s causing dizziness while you drive over a bridge or reluctance to take an office with a window, then perhaps consider therapy.
Fear of Dogs
Most of the time cynophobia, or a fear of dogs, is the result of a bad experience as a child. Perhaps you or a friend was attacked by a dog. Cynophobes may have panic attacks, feel overly anxious or freeze up when they see a dog. This may or may not have a toll on your daily life — are you dropping people from your list of friends just because they got a puppy? As with spiders and snakes, you can overcome or lessen your fear of dogs by working up to being in the same room with a live animal. Start out with a toy, a picture or a video.
Fear of Weather Events
Astraphobia, or a fear of lightning, is one of a group of phobias about weather events. Lightning strikes may cause phobic people to sweat profusely and seek cover, even if they’re inside. If you want to lessen your weather fear, rethink what you do when you are faced with a frightening weather event. Can you hide somewhere a little less sheltered? Can you call a friend and have her talk you through it when you’re in the middle of a triggering weather event?
Fear of Flying
Also called pteromerhanophobia, a fear of flying combines a fear of becoming trapped in the wreckage of a plane with a fear of dying in a plane crash. This is often treated by gradually exposing the phobic person to flying — perhaps by watching films that take place on airplanes, by visiting airports and by eventually booking short flights. Unlike some of the other phobias listed, this one is usually easier to avoid until you can cope with it. Unless you need to go overseas, car and train travel are often an easy substitute.
Fear of Social Situations
While everyone experiences a moment or two of panic when asked to give a speech or perform on a stage, people who have acute social phobia freeze up when put in front of a group. They may feel physically ill and have an elevated heart rate. The repercussions are obvious: It may be hard to go to school, hold a job or even leave the house. To manage a fear of social situations, analyze why you feel so uncomfortable around other people. Try going out in smaller groups for short amounts of time. Clubs or other groups that provide a safe, structured atmosphere may be a good place to start.
Fear of Open Spaces
As with a fear of social events, if you fear open spaces you may rarely leave your home. Agoraphobia is essentially a fear of being unable to escape from a place — such as a crowded bus station, a shopping mall or even a public park. This can cause panic attacks when even thinking about the feared place. To manage this phobia, resist the urge to run away. Then, focus on something about the place that is non-threatening and breathe deeply.
About the Author: Shanna Lewis is a life coach who helps businesspeople make the most of their own talents. She enjoys helping others break through the bonds of negative self-images, phobias and counterproductive beliefs to reach their goals.
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