Prevalence of Common Phobias and Their Sociodemographic Effect in Modern Society
Imagine being scared to go outside, to get on an elevator, or even to take a bite of food. For many people, this fear consumes their everyday life. It is a psychological problem called phobia. A phobia is a psychological condition that needs to be evaluated due to the impact that it can have on a person’s life. In the following work the definition, symptoms, types, and treatment options for phobias will be described. The writer will be presenting phobias and its components. The medical description of a phobia will be clarified. The symptoms that are presented with a phobia will be exposed. The prevalence rates associated with this psychological disorder will be given. There are varieties of factors that are associated with this condition. On a positive note, there are treatment and medication options for the treatment of this mental health condition.
The description of a phobia is an extreme fear of an object; for example a balloon, a clown, or a certain animal. The extreme fear can also be felt in a situation; like being stuck in an elevator or flying in an airplane, or even being in a large group or crowd. A phobia is not related to everyday stress but can come in periods of extreme stress on the body and mind. A person that has a phobia finds it difficult to carry out daily activities; for example going to work, attending school, or certain places in which the individual may come in contact with his or her phobia. An individual with a phobia has an irrational or persistent fear that can become out of proportion to the actual risk, meaning that the situation of being faced with a phobia will cause some kind of extreme damage to the individual and the loss of control is inevitable. These are the main descriptors of a phobia.
Now that a clear understanding of phobias has been established, the diverse types of phobia will be explored. There is a natural environment which means that individuals can be afraid of storms or lighting. There are animal phobias; for example being afraid of spiders, rats, dogs, and snakes. There is blood phobia in which the individual is afraid of blood. There are injection phobias in which the individual may be afraid of shots. There are injury phobias in which the individual may be afraid of getting hurt. There are situational phobias in which an individual may be afraid of flying, elevators, or bridges. Other types of phobias include; fear of throwing up or even seeing or hearing someone throwing up. Eating and feeling like food will get stuck in one’s throat is among many that affect people, as silly as this sounds, fear of choking is one that disrupts people in getting through their day. Children are more likely to have phobias toward clowns, costumes, or noises; but phobias do not discriminate and can affect people of many ages at any point in their lives. These are the basic types of phobias.
Individuals with phobias can show certain types of characteristics, having a phobia is not something that can be seen it all occurs in the brain. The main symptom of a phobia is having more fear than the average person around an object or situation. Children will show symptoms in their behavior by crying, tantrums, freezing up, and clinging. The individual can have feelings of uncontrolled panic, terror, and dread when exposed to fear. Avoiding fear, by all means, is a big symptom. The anxiety produced by the phobia makes functioning normally impossible. Physical reactions include sweating, rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, extreme panic, and anxiety. Phobias can often cause a person to feel powerless. Anxiety is produced just by thinking of phobia. Phobias can cause isolation. A person can become depressed or have anxiety disorders. Substance abuse can also occur. According to the staff at the Mayo Clinic (2014), “ some individuals can even be at risk for suicide.” The prevalence rates for phobias are that oftentimes they begin at an early age around seven years old. Women are more likely to develop phobias than men and at an earlier age. As Fritscher (2008) points out, “rates decrease at ages 18-64, with a significant drop at 65 years old.” A phobia can also occur after certain trauma or being in a high-stress situation and can occur at any age. Children are more prone to have animal phobias. Situational phobias usually arise in adults. Phobias are also said to be found more frequently in sensitive people.
The main causes for phobias are unknown but the following are probable causes and explanations to the reasons why phobias can occur. Having had something bad happen for example; having been bitten by a dog may cause a phobia, as well as having been stuck in an elevator and had a panic attack. Having witnessed something bad occur to someone else e.g. accident or fall may have caused a phobia. Having seen a person who got very scared doing or being in a situation or around an object could be a contributing factor to having a phobia. Hearing something terrible happened for example; having experienced a horrible accident or plane crash may result in a phobia. Phobias can be genetic. Again, being more sensitive than the average individual may also be a cause for a phobia.
There are many solutions to this problem that many people might have and are just too scared or embarrassed to get help with. There are many treatment options, but first a diagnosis is needed through a clinical interview and certain guidelines outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) must be met. Certain types of medications might be prescribed like Beta blockers. Beta-blockers work by blocking the stimulating effect of adrenaline in the body. Antidepressants like SSRIs work on the chemical serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain that affects mood. Sedatives like benzodiazepines help a person relax by reducing their anxiety level. Desensitization or exposure therapy focuses on changing a person’s response to their phobia with gradual repeated exposure and eventually changing their response to their phobia. Cognitive Behavior therapy goes along with exposure but with an added emphasis on learning to master a person’s phobia by controlling their thoughts and feelings. According to Andersson (2009), “cognitive behavior therapy has been an effective treatment for youth” (311). Specific phobias are sometimes treated with exposure. Social phobia is treated with exposure therapy or with antidepressants or beta blockers. There are also many alternative medicine options for reducing stress levels; such as yoga or Chinese medicine. In turn, helping the person being able to confront their phobia without so much anxiety. The options are numerous the key is to get help so that the phobias can be overcome.
In conclusion, phobias can affect any person and at any age. The effects take a toll on a person’s mental and physical state. Phobias, the extreme and irrational fear of many objects or situations is real and felt life-threatening to many. There are many types of phobias. The symptoms that a person presents are key to providing a diagnosis. The root causes for phobias are many. There are many solutions to having a phobia; help comes in many forms. Bringing awareness to others or family or friends of others is the writer’s goal so that people can reach out for help and not feel alone or ashamed. She herself is a work in progress and having written this paper provided more insight and was very beneficial to her own healing.
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