Fear is a normal human emotion, but sometimes it can become out of control and lead to phobias or anxiety disorders. People with these conditions have persistent feelings of anxiousness and worry, even when there is nothing to be afraid of.
If you or a loved one is struggling with anxiety, you can get help. Your GP can help you determine the source of your feelings and recommend ways to manage them. For example, they may suggest changes to your daily routine and avoiding stimulants like caffeine or alcohol. They may also refer you to a mental health professional for therapy such as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) which helps change unhelpful thoughts and behaviours that contribute to anxiety.
It’s common to feel anxious in high-pressure situations, such as before a big speech or exam. But chronic, deep-seated anxieties can be debilitating. They can interfere with work, relationships and everyday life. These are called anxiety disorders and they affect more than 19% of the US population. Anxiety disorders are more serious than simple feelings of stress or fear, and they can cause physical symptoms such as a faster heartbeat, breathing fast, or sweating. They can be so strong that they cause you to feel like you are about to lose control, or that you are going to have a panic attack.
These emotions are a result of evolutionary survival mechanisms that are hardwired into the brain. They are designed to help us quickly assess potential danger and take appropriate action to protect ourselves. However, we are no longer hunter-gatherers on the savannah, so our fears can become out of proportion and hold us back in many ways.
People with phobias are afraid of certain objects, places or situations. They may develop these fears in childhood or adolescence, and they can persist throughout adulthood. These irrational fears can make it very difficult to live a normal life. People with phobias often have a lot of self-doubt and low self-esteem. They may have trouble forming and maintaining friendships, have difficulty at school or work and feel like they don’t belong.
There are a number of treatments for phobias, including CBT and medication. These treatments can help you overcome your irrational fears and learn to cope with them. Talking to a therapist about your phobias can also be helpful. They can show you different strategies for coping with them, and help you to see that the things you’re worried about aren’t as dangerous as you think.
People with phobias often find it helpful to create a “fear ladder.” They start with the least scary item on the list and gradually work their way up, starting with something that doesn’t make them very anxious. For example, someone with a fear of dogs might start by looking at pictures or videos of them. They might then go to a pet store where they can touch a dog and walk it. They can then try interacting with dogs in a public place and eventually, they might be able to approach and pet a dog without feeling anxious. your fears