Approximately 12.5 percent of adults in the U.S experience specific phobia at some point in their life, according to the NIMH. Slight worries or fears about speaking in public, insects, or heights are natural. However, these fears can become phobias that cause high levels of anxiety and stress. To manage panic attacks, hyperventilation, and other troubling symptoms linked to phobias, most patients turn to alcohol and drugs. It is important to note that there is a connection between phobias and other mental health disorders and substance abuse. And when drug abuse becomes the preferred coping mechanism for fear, an addiction develops. As a result, anxiety and depression levels increase. If you’re struggling to manage a phobia, read on to learn effective ways to overcome fear without relying on substance abuse.
Consider Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive-behavioral therapy entails identifying and eliminating negative thoughts that trigger fear. In most cases, therapists advise patients to create a list of ideas that increase their anxiety levels. You’ll also need to pinpoint unhelpful beliefs and then reframe them to become helpful. This treatment is critical to understanding and managing your phobia. There are some advantages of cognitive-behavioral therapy, including reduced anxiety levels and improved phobia severity. You’ll also be less likely to avoid situations or items that trigger fear.
Expose Yourself To Your Phobias
Exposing yourself to feared environments and objects is a practical and effective way to cope with phobia. There are two ways to go about exposure therapy. You can opt for the flooding method, which involves exposing yourself entirely to your fears. This option can be unpleasant as it requires you to endure your anxiety until you overcome it. To avoid the stress associated with flooding exposure, you may want to settle for gradual exposure. As the name suggests, this therapy allows you to expose yourself to fear and then withdraw when anxiety levels increase. For example, if you have a fear of swimming, instead of diving into the water, gradual exposure lets you start with small steps like sitting by the poolside. With time you’ll feel comfortable dipping your feet in the water and eventually sign up for swimming classes where you’ll learn how to prevent drowning when in a pool, lake, or sea.
One thing about phobias and fears works on a subconscious level. So, regardless of how much you convince yourself that your phobias are not harmful, your body and mind will respond with fear. To change how you feel and react to fear, you should consider hypnotherapy. This treatment option helps you to communicate effectively with your subconscious to determine the primary cause of fear. It also enables you to form new habits and relaxation techniques. Some fears relieved through hypnotherapy include social anxiety, the fear of insects, and agoraphobia.
The fear of public speaking, snakes, insects, and heights is normal. But when they develop into phobias, they cause anxiety and stress, making life unbearable. Fortunately, you can overcome phobias if you seek treatment, such as hypnotherapy, exposure therapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy.