While almost everyone experiences some specific fears in daily life, people suffering from a phobia often have irrational fears that keep them from being able to live without anxiety or paralyzing nervousness. Women develop phobias at about twice the rate that men do, and phobias can even develop during the childhood years. For people of any age suffering from a phobia, a targeted intervention can often make the difference between being able to work and socialize in the same way that unaffected people do. Bridges to Recovery has a phobia residential treatment program that is highly effective in returning those who suffer from specific phobias to their normal routines.
What is a Phobia?
People with phobias have an intense, specific fear of particular events, objects, people, or animals. Their terror provoked by these fears may not be reasonable or based on realistic facts, but exposure to the frightening object can induce a panic attack or a paralyzing inability to act within minutes. Some phobias, such as a fear of lightning, water, spiders, snakes or high places, may be based on a frightening incident that occurred earlier in life, but not all phobias result from such events. Phobias can prevent people from completing important tasks because of the need to avoid the source of their fear. This may mean that a businessman cannot take a plane due to a fear of flying, a mother cannot deal with her toddler’s knee injury because of a fear of blood, or a teenager cannot get the necessary vaccinations for an overseas trip due to a phobia about injections.
Symptoms of Phobia
The following are some common reactions that people with phobias experience when confronted with the object or event that triggers their phobic reactions:
- Taking unusuall measures in order to avoid the cause of the phobia
- Intense anxiety or an inability to take action when confronted by the cause of their fears
- Physical reactions, such as a rapid heartbeat, breathlessness, profuse sweating, chest discomfort, choking, nausea, trembling, shaking, or crying
- An inability to control emotional reactions to the cause of their fear
- Constant worry about being trapped near the feared object
- Full-blown panic attacks or fainting when facing the feared object or activity
When any of these symptoms begin to disrupt the patterns of life, it is time for people with a phobia to seek help in overcoming it.
Causes of a Phobia
Research is ongoing concerning the reason some people develop severe phobias. Researchers have found that some phobias are passed from parent to child and that others result due to an alarming incident in early years that seems to have imprinted anxiety on the brain. For example, people who are saved from drowning in their early years might later find that they have an intense fear of water, or someone who has been bitten by a neighbor’s dog as a child might develop a phobia related to canines. It is also possible that certain brain chemicals or genetic factors could play a role in this life-changing disorder. Although, at present, there is no known way to prevent a phobia from developing, but the earlier that treatment is started, the more likely it is that the outcome will be positive.
Types of Phobias
Hundreds of individual phobias have been documented, but these can usually be sorted into three different categories. They are as follows:
Specific Phobias: These include zoophobia (fear of animals), aviophobia (fear of flying), dentophobia (fear of dentists), belonephobia (fear of sharp objects), claustrophobia (fear of enclosed places),and hydrophobia (fear of water), along with hundreds of other fears that are related to a singular source.
Social Phobia: This is an extreme fear of what other people will think. People with social phobias have a fear of publically humiliating themselves and often isolate themselves from others for this reason.
Fear of Open Spaces: This phobia is labeled agoraphobia and most often results in panic attacks when the sufferer is in places from which escape might be difficult, such as closets, elevators, malls, or crowded concert halls. These fears sometimes intensify to the point that a person cannot leave his own home or bedroom due to overwhelming anxiety and the resulting physical manifestations of this phobia. This condition may make travel an impossibility.
Treatment Options for Phobias
Although possible, determination and time do not usually allay the excessive fears and behaviors that accompany a phobia. Thankfully, modern medicine has given doctors several excellent tools to help patients deal with this mental disorder. Mental health specialists sometimes use only treatment strategy, but often a combination of the following treatments is needed for the most successful outcome:
- Prescription medications, such as beta blockers, antidepressants and anxiety-reducing medications are often effective in alleviating some of the symptoms caused by a phobia. Doctors monitor these medicines carefully because they can be habit-forming.
- Behavioral therapy is frequently used to help people with phobias become less sensitive to the objects or events that cause their fear. Exposure therapy can help individuals change the way they respond to their irrational fear, and cognitive behavioral therapy can teach new ways to cope with this problem.
- Alternative techniques, such as prayer, yoga, weight lifting, meditation, or aerobic exercise may be used in conjunction with other treatments to give additional benefits.
- After carefully assessing a patient’s phobias, doctors will begin a treatment program that may include several of these options and monitor the planned course of action closely to determine if any changes need to be made.
Being diagnosed with a phobia can be a bit frightening in itself, and many patients have questions. The following are some of the most pressing:
What kind of tests must a person undergo in order to receive a phobia diagnosis?
Once a doctor has documented that a person has a clean physical bill of health by performing a thorough physical examination a review of medical history and current medications, he or she will attempt to reach an appropriate diagnosis through a series of interviews with questions that were developed specifically to assess for the presence of phobia. In some cases, physicians will use a published and standardized set of questions to determine whether a phobia is present.
How long does treatment for a phobia generally take?
The duration of treatment depends on many factors, including the severity of the phobia, the fortitude of the patient, the support system available, and the amount of stress the patient is undergoing at the time of treatment. Most people get some relief within weeks or months, but for others, it takes years of intensive therapy to find ways to cope with a phobia.
Is it possible to have more than one phobia at the same time?
Because phobias are co-occur with each other or with other illnesses, such as generalized anxiety disorder, some people will sometimes have to cope with more than one fear at the same time. Some phobias are closely intertwined. For example, people who suffer from agoraphobia and fear being unable to escape will also suffer from claustrophobia,causing them to avoid small spaces such as closets or elevators.
Why Should People Choose Bridges to Recovery for Phobia Residential Treatment
Bridges to Recovery was set up to provide the most positive recovery atmosphere available to people suffering from mental disorders of all types. The doctors have years of experience in all psychological areas and are especially adept at treating phobias that are completely disrupting the lives of their patients. Because Bridges to Recovery staffs at least three treatment providers for every patient, those in treatment receive the appropriate attention they need to concentrate on recovery, and family and friends are encouraged to actively participate and support their loved ones.
For people who need transitional care but are no longer candidates for hospitalization, Bridges to Recovery can offer treatment in an alternative residential setting. This licensed program uses a holistic approach with treatment provided by therapists trained at the doctoral level. For almost ten years, this state-of- the-art residential treatment facility has helped patients recover from the trauma, anxiety, and fear associated with phobias.
The medical team and staff at Bridges to Recovery use all of the most advanced techniques to help patients triumph over the fearsi that have been a part of their lives for so long that some can no longer carry out daily activities. Bridges to Recovery provides a safe place for frightened people to regain their equilibrium and establish new patterns for living. This caring residential environment can give patients the right attitude, optimism and hope necessary to complete treatment and find peace.