Some individuals may find the word “irrational” insulting. In light of the fact that the fear seems to be extremely real, there may possibly be a valid basis for it. But depending on how it controls your life, even a reasonable fear might be irrational.
Most people have at least one irrational fear, such as a dread of spiders or going to the dentist on a regular basis. Most people’s anxieties are not very serious. However, anxieties are referred to as phobias when they are so intense that they interfere with your daily activities and produce excruciating worry.
Excessive fear of something that actually presents little to no threat is referred to as a phobia. Closed-in spaces, heights, driving on the highway, flying insects, snakes, and needles are a few common phobias and fears. But you may have phobias of just about everything. Although they typically start in childhood, phobias can start in adults.
If you suffer from a phobia, you probably understand that your dread is unreasonable, yet you are unable to manage your emotions. You might feel uneasy just by thinking about the thing or scenario you’re afraid of. And the panic is instinctive and overwhelming when you are actually exposed to what you fear. Because of how unsettling the sensation is, you can go to great lengths to avoid it, trouble yourself, or even alter your way of life.
For instance, if you are claustrophobic, you could decline a lucrative job offer if it requires you to take an elevator to go to the office. You might go an extra 20 miles to avoid a high bridge if you have a fear of heights.
What distinguishes it from general fear?
Fear is a natural emotion in dangerous circumstances, and it can even be beneficial. The automatic “fight-or-flight” response is triggered by fear and serves a protective function. We are able to respond quickly and defend ourselves when our bodies and minds are awake and prepared for action. With phobias, however, the threat is either non-existent or substantially inflated. For instance, it is understandable to be terrified of a growling Doberman, but it is unreasonable to feel the same way about a nice leashed poodle, as you might if you have a dog phobia.
Many childhood concerns are normal and typically manifest at certain ages. For instance, a lot of young children struggle to fall asleep in the dark and may require a nightlight. That does not imply that they are phobic. Most of the time, as they age, they will get over this phobia.
Babies are terrified of loud noises, strangers, being away from their parents, and large things until they are 2 years old. As children get older, popular phobias include ghosts, monsters, the dark, sleeping alone, and unusual noises. In their adolescence, additional practical concerns such as injuries, disease, poor academic performance, mortality, and natural calamities start to surface.
There isn’t much reason to worry excessively if your child’s fright isn’t interfering with their everyday activities or causing them a lot of distress.
Types of irrational fears-
Individuals have a variety of irrational fears that don’t make a lot of sense and yet can cause a huge negative impact. Typically, phobias fit into one of the following groups:
- Fear of animals of any kind, including cats, dogs, snakes, rats, and mice.
- Fear of heights, firestorms, water, illness, ageing, or other natural events are examples of natural environment types.
- Blood-Injection-Injury Type includes aversion to blood, needles, and other potentially contaminated objects.
- Fear of enclosed spaces, the dark, seeing the dentist, or other scenarios are examples of situational phobias.
- Other Type includes fears that are difficult to classify, such as those of the number thirteen, clowns or mimes, loud noises, and others.
Some common examples of phobia include claustrophobia (fear of confined spaces), hydrophobia(fear of water), agoraphobia(fear of public spaces), aerophobia(fear of flying), acrophobia(fear of heights), coulrophobia(fear of clowns) etc.
Past traumas – It’s possible that some events will continue to affect how you feel about them. For instance, if you were a young child and experienced a lot of turbulence on a plane, you would grow afraid of flying. Alternatively, if a dog bit you years ago, you can grow afraid of them.
Early life experiences and responses – Your childhood environment may have contributed to the development of your fear. For instance, you might have concerned or nervous parents or guardians. This could impact how you handle anxiety in the future. Similar phobias may manifest in you as they did in your parents or elder siblings. You can start to feel the same way they do if they exhibit a strong reaction to what they fear.
Genetic influences – According to research, some people are more prone than others to developing phobias. Children are more likely to develop phobias if they have an immediate relatives who suffers from an anxiety illness.
Some people steer clear of the scenario or thing that makes them anxious. But over time, this can make your fear worse. However, it might be very challenging to be in a situation that involves your phobia and to make this possible, you might require professional assistance.
Panic attacks are the most prevalent and incapacitating symptom of a phobia. Several characteristics of a panic attack are-
- rapid heartbeat
- breathing difficulty
- breathing difficulty speaking quickly or not at all
- having a dry mouth
- having an uncomfortable stomach
- a high blood pressure level
- stiffness or pain in the chest
- a feeling of suffocation, faintness, or dizziness
- sweating heavily
- a feeling of imminent disaster
A combination of interventions are used in the treatment of irrational fears or phobia, which includes self-help tips, therapy, as well as medications. We’ve listed some of the most commonly used treatment plans for irrational fear below-
- Exposure therapy – By gradually exposing you to something you’re afraid of, your doctor tries to change how you respond to it. These are effective for particular phobias. Your therapist could advise progressive exposure to social situations, role-playing, and rehearsing, for instance, if you suffer from social anxiety. They’ll encourage you to be less critical of yourself and give you techniques to lessen the anxiety you experience. You practise relaxing at each stage. You are prepared for genuine exposure once the worry has subsided. At this point, relaxation exercises can also be helpful.
- Cognitive behavioural therapy – Along with exposure, you also pick up new techniques for dealing with your fears. Instead of letting your fear rule your thoughts and emotions, you learn how to regulate them using CBT. Techniques for relaxation, biofeedback, consistent deep breathing, and assistance. These can aid in reducing your anxiety while undergoing therapy. Attending support groups and phobia clinics has also proven beneficial for many people in overcoming their anxieties.
- Antidepressants – The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) family of these medications are particularly effective in the treatment of social phobia. They consist of: Fluoxetine (Prozac), Paroxetine (Paxil), Escitalopram oxalate (Lexapro), Citalopram (Celexa), etc.
- Beta-blockers – With the use of these medications, many performers, actresses, and lecturers lessen their stage fright symptoms. At greater doses, they are normally used to treat high blood pressure, but at lower doses, they can block the effects of adrenaline that trigger the body’s reaction to stress. They temporarily reduce physical symptoms of worry without making you feel very sleepy.
- Don’t try to avoid scary situations – Instead of completely avoiding situations you are afraid of, practise staying as close to them as you can. Work on this with the assistance of your family, friends, and therapist. Use the methods you learn in treatment and collaborate with your therapist to create a strategy in case your symptoms worsen. Work with your therapist to create a plan in case your symptoms worsen while putting the techniques you learn in therapy into practice.
Humans tend to avoid frightening emotions. But if you keep avoiding facing the fears dwelling inside, the monster will hold you captive. Typically, this entails running away from any stressor that can upset you and participating in nonstop diversions. Unfortunately, you are also avoiding potential difficulties that can promote joy and progress. Additionally, you cannot always hide from fear.
Despite your greatest efforts to stifle it, it will strike. And it’s likely to happen when you’re most in need of emotional composure. The good news is that once you confront your fear and give the fear air instead of pushing it into a remote area of your brain, it starts to lose its power over you and thus will not overpower your decisions and choices.
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