Thursday, June 16, 2022

A Phobia Is Not An Anxiety Disorder

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What Is A Phobia

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A phobia is an uncontrollable, irrational, and lasting fear of a certain object, situation, or activity. This fear can be so overwhelming that a person may go to great lengths to avoid the source of this fear. One response can be a panic attack. This is a sudden, intense fear that lasts for several minutes. It happens when there is no real danger.

Treatment Of Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders can be successfully treated. The most common form of treatment is a combination of drug therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy .

Because most anxiety disorders have some biological basis, the most common drugs prescribed are anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs.

CBT involves helping people to turn their anxious thoughts and feelings into more rational ones. Sometimes people will benefit from being exposed in a controlled way to the object and situation they fear. Some CBT techniques have been developed to deal with specific disorders. For example, people with panic disorder can benefit from learning new breathing and meditation techniques, which can help them deal with their anxiety.

Support groups and learning more about the disorder can also help a great many people deal with anxiety disorders. Involving family and friends who are also affected by the disorder, can help people recover or learn how to cope with their condition.

The most important first step in treatment is to get a proper diagnosis from a specialist in anxiety disorders. Many people suffer for 10 years or more before getting the right treatment.

Everyone Experiences Anxiety At Some Point In Their Life

People become anxious when they have to face a highly stressful situation like taking a test, going for a job interview, or getting married. When one is anxious and under stress the body reacts: hands become clammy, the heart beats a little faster, and one can even feel light-headed or dizzy. Some people become preoccupied with fear and worry, and the intense feelings of anxiety continue. If this happens, an individual may have an anxiety disorder.

One in six Canadians are affected by an anxiety disorder. Anxiety can take the form of panic disorder, phobia, or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Without treatment an individuals physical, mental, and emotional health may be in jeopardy. Anxiety disorders can also lead to alcohol and/or drug abuse, family problems, depression, and in some cases, suicide.

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The Difference Between Fear And Phobia

The term phobia gets thrown around a lot these days, but having a fear and having a phobia arent exactly the same thing.

Essentially, fear is temporary phobia isnt.

Having a phobia creates a stumbling block in your life, and the fear it causes can be so strong that youll do anything to avoid the object of that phobia. Phobia that becomes debilitating is a type of anxiety disorder. Take, for example, a job offer. You made it through the hardest partlanding your dream positiononly to find out that your office will be on the 20th floor of an office buildingand you have a phobia of heights. In order to avoid being so high off the ground, you turn the position down and pass up a significant job opportunity because of your phobia.1

Phobias can be debilitating and crippling, and they can keep you from enjoying the things you love with the people you love. But it doesnt have to be this way. There is hope and help for people with phobias.

Signs And Symptoms Of Phobias

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The symptoms of a phobia can range from mild feelings of apprehension and anxiety to a full-blown panic attack. Typically, the closer you are to the thing youre afraid of, the greater your fear will be. Your fear will also be higher if getting away is difficult.

Physical symptoms of a phobia include:

  • Difficulty breathing

Emotional symptoms of a phobia include:

  • Feeling overwhelming anxiety or panic
  • Feeling intense need to escape
  • Feeling unreal or detached from yourself
  • Fear of losing control or going crazy
  • Feeling like youre going to die or pass out
  • Knowing that youre overreacting, but feeling powerless to control fear

Symptoms of blood-injection-injury phobia

The symptoms of blood-injection-injury phobia are slightly different from other phobias. When confronted with the sight of blood or a needle, you experience not only fear, but also disgust.

Like other phobias, you initially feel anxious as your heart speeds up. However, unlike other phobias, this acceleration is followed by a quick drop in blood pressure, which leads to nausea, dizziness, and fainting. Although a fear of fainting is common in all specific phobias, blood-injection-injury phobia is the only phobia where fainting can actually occur.

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Major Types Of Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety is a normal human emotion and is part of life. Anxiety is only considered a disorder if it causes significant distress and/or keeps a person from keeping up with at least one part their life, including school, work, relationships, responsibilities or enjoyable activities. Anxiety disorders often persist over time and generally do not go away on their own. When anxiety disorders are left untreated, many people develop depression because of the toll that the anxiety has taken on their life. Anxiety is treatable by a mental health professional with short-term therapy if there are no other challenges or concerns.

We spoke to several pediatric psychologists at CHOC for an overview on the six major types of anxiety disorders.

What Is A Panic Disorder

If you have a panic disorder, you get intense, sudden panic attacks. These attacks often feature stronger, more intense feelings than other types of anxiety disorders.

The feelings of terror may start suddenly and unexpectedly or they may come from a trigger, like facing a situation you dread. Panic attacks can resemble heart attacks. If theres any chance youre experiencing a heart attack, go to the emergency room. Its better to err on the side of caution and have a healthcare professional check you.

During a panic attack, you may experience:

Panic attacks are very upsetting. People with panic disorder often spend a lot of time worrying about the next panic attack. They also try to avoid situations that might trigger an attack.

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How Do You Know You Have Social Anxiety

Are you wondering if you have social anxiety? If you identify with a lot of what Ive talked about with respect to social phobia and social anxiety, you might be wondering if this applies to you.

If you have social anxiety, you typically experience intense fear and discomfort in a variety of social situations. You may even find yourself avoiding those social interactions as a result of your fears.

Your fear can be so overwhelming that it impacts your life significantly if this is the case, its important to seek help from a professional.

Its also important to note that many introverts suffer from social anxiety at one point in their lives. This means you may feel comfortable talking to friends, but then more anxious around people you dont know very well.

These are just some of the signs of potential social anxiety. Its important to remember the issue is complicated. While you may experience all of these things, its not necessarily always social anxiety at play, but other concerns may also be present.

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How Do I Know If My Child Has An Anxiety Disorder

What is an Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety-related problems in children share four common features. The anxiety:

  • Is typically a fear or fixation that interferes with the ability to enjoy life, get through the day or complete tasks.
  • Is puzzling to both the child and parents.
  • Does not improve after logical explanations to address the worries.
  • Is treatable.

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Specific Phobia Risk Factors

Risk factors for developing a specific phobia are temperamental, environmental, and genetic. For instance, negative affectivity or behavioral inhibition are temperamental risk factors for a variety of anxiety disorders, including specific phobias.

Parental overprotectiveness, physical and sexual abuse and traumatic encounters are examples of environmental risk factors that increase the likelihood of an individual developing a specific phobia.

There may also be a genetic susceptibility to a certain category of a specific phobia for example, if an individual has an immediate relative with a specific situational phobia of flying, the individual is more likely to have the same specific phobia than any other category of phobia.

Is Anxiety A Mental Illness

Anxiety itself is not a mental illness. Yet, sensations of intense fear, anxiety, nausea, or aversions can indicate an underlying mental illness or anxiety disorder. These can lead to a host of varying symptoms. Intense fears, phobias, and aversions can be a sign of any of the aforementioned types of anxiety disorders. All of which can greatly affect the mental health of the suffering individual. Anxiety disorders are mental health disorders.

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Phobia & Addiction Risk Factors

Common risk factors for both phobias and addiction include:

  • stress
  • having a family history of phobias or addiction
  • living with someone who has a phobia or addiction

You also face a higher risk of a phobia if you hear about a negative event involving a certain place, situation, object, or person. For example, someone who hears about a plane crash may develop a phobia of flying, especially if they hear about it as a child.

Symptoms Of Anxiety Disorders:

An Anxiety Disorder

Anyone may experience these symptoms during stressful times. However, individuals with anxiety disorders may experience them in absence of stress, with more severe symptoms and/or with several symptoms appearing together.

  • Inability to relax
  • Rapid pulse or pounding, skipping, racing heart
  • Nausea, chest pain or pressure
  • Feeling a “lump in the throat”
  • Dry mouth
  • Feelings of dread, apprehension or losing control
  • Trembling or shaking, sweating or chills
  • Fainting or dizziness, feelings of detachment
  • Thoughts of death

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Symptoms Of Phobias & Addiction

The most common symptom of a phobia is avoidance of a feared place, situation, object, or person. If someone with a phobia cant avoid what they fear, theyll often feel an intense desire to flee the situation.

They may also experience symptoms of a panic attack, such as:

  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • rapid heartbeat
  • loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • tolerance
  • physical dependence

Causes Of Specific Phobia

The reasons why phobias develop are not fully understood. Specific phobias tend to begin in children, whose developing brains are still developing patterns about how to respond to the world around them. A common example of this is a child who develops a phobia of dogs after being bitten by one, but there are many more subtle ways that a childs brain can take in information that teaches them to fear something. For example, they could learn to fear a dog by watching a movie that features a scary dog or watch a family member flinch in response to a dogs bark.1

Still, experiences in childhood are only one of many potential reasons why one may go on to develop a specific phobia. Genetics may also play a role.1Many specific phobias may be due to a complex interplay between genetics and life experiences. The same goes for social anxiety disorders and agoraphobia. Teens are more vulnerable to developing social anxiety disorders, likely because the teen years are marked by hormonal changes and new social pressures. Agoraphobia and panic disorders have a lot of overlap, and they both tend to start in young adulthood.6,11,12

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What Happens If I Dont Get Treatment For My Child With An Anxiety Disorder

Getting your child help for an anxiety disorder can improve their development and self-esteem. But untreated anxiety disorders can harm:

  • Family relationships.
  • School performance.
  • Social functioning.

Your child may also end up with more serious mental and physical health problems. Fortunately, there are several treatments for anxiety disorders. The right treatment can help your child manage their symptoms and feel their best.

How Anxiety Disorders Affect People

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For people dealing with anxiety disorders, symptoms can feel strange and confusing at first. For some, the physical sensations can be strong and upsetting. For others, feelings of doom or fear that can happen for no apparent reason can make them feel scared, unprotected, and on guard. Constant worries can make a person feel overwhelmed by every little thing. All this can affect someoneâs concentration, confidence, sleep, appetite, and outlook.

People with anxiety disorders might avoid talking about their worries, thinking that others might not understand. They may fear being unfairly judged, or considered weak or scared. Although anxiety disorders are common, people who have them may feel misunderstood or alone.

Some people with anxiety disorders might blame themselves. They may feel embarrassed or ashamed, or mistakenly think that anxiety is a weakness or a personal failing. Anxiety can keep people from going places or doing things they enjoy.

The good news is, doctors today understand anxiety disorders better than ever before and, with treatment, a person can feel better.

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Panic Attacks And Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is characterized by repeated, unexpected panic attacks, as well as fear of experiencing another episode. Agoraphobia, the fear of being somewhere where escape or help would be difficult in the event of a panic attack, may also accompany a panic disorder. If you have agoraphobia, you are likely to avoid public places such as shopping malls, or confined spaces such as an airplane.

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Anxiety Disorder And Associated Disorders

There are many anxiety disorders that differ by the cause, the intensity, and the duration of their symptoms. Here are examples of different anxiety disorders:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a type of anxiety that is constantly and continuously being felt by a person, impeding them to go on about their day in normalcy.
  • Agoraphobia occurs when a person avoids public spaces for fear of not being able to get out of a crowd or not being able to access the necessary resources if for example diarrhea, a panic attack or any other debilitating symptoms arise.
  • Simple phobia is an unreasonable fear of a specific object, living being or situation .
  • Panic Disorder occurs when symptoms arise without any specific triggers and reach maximum intensity in few minutes. Panic attacks usually resolve themselves within 1 hours, but their intensity drains all energy from the person who experienced it.
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder stems from an obsessive idea. To get rid of an obsessive idea, the person uses rituals or compulsions
  • Post-Traumatic Syndrome Disorder is a condition where a person mentally relive one or many traumatizing events, which in turn, leads to important mental suffering and avoidance.

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Normal Fears Vs Phobias Or Irrational Fears

It is normal and even helpful to experience fear in dangerous situations. Fear serves a protective purpose, activating the automatic fight-or-flight response. With our bodies and minds alert and ready for action, we are able to respond quickly and protect ourselves. But with phobias the threat is nonexistent or greatly exaggerated. For example, it is only natural to be afraid of a snarling Doberman, but it is irrational to be terrified of a friendly poodle on a leash, as you might be if you have a dog phobia.

The difference between normal fear and a phobia
Normal fearPhobia
Feeling anxious when flying through turbulence or taking off during a stormNot going to your best friends island wedding because youd have to fly there
Experiencing butterflies when peering down from the top of a skyscraper or climbing a tall ladderTurning down a great job because its on the 10th floor of the office building
Getting nervous when you see a pit bull or a RottweilerSteering clear of the park because you might see a dog
Feeling a little queasy when getting a shot or when your blood is being drawnAvoiding necessary medical treatments or doctors checkups because youre terrified of needles

How Is Social Anxiety Disorder Treated

How to Help Someone With Anxiety

First, talk to your doctor or health care professional about your symptoms. Your doctor should do an exam and ask you about your health history to make sure that an unrelated physical problem is not causing your symptoms. Your doctor may refer you to a mental health specialist, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, clinical social worker, or counselor. The first step to effective treatment is to have a diagnosis made, usually by a mental health specialist.

Social anxiety disorder is generally treated with psychotherapy , medication, or both. Speak with your doctor or health care provider about the best treatment for you. If your health care provider cannot provide a referral, visit the NIMH Help for Mental Illnesses web page at www.nimh.nih.gov/findhelp for resources you may find helpful.

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How Do Anxiety Disorders Affect Children

Its normal for children to feel some amount of anxiety, worry or fear at certain points. For example, a child may feel scared of a thunderstorm or barking dog. A teenager might get anxious about an upcoming test or school dance.

But sometimes, children approach these situations with overwhelming dread or they cant stop thinking about all the fears tied to one of these events. It may seem that none of your comforts help. These children often get stuck on their worries. They have a hard time doing their daily activities, like going to school, playing and falling asleep. Theyre extremely reluctant to try something new.

When thinking about your childs anxiety levels, getting stuck is key. It separates the regular worries of childhood from an anxiety disorder that needs professional help. If the anxiety or worry interferes with your childs ability to function, it may be time to seek help

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