Phobias: The Cause Of Anxiety Disor

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Fear is a normal and important part of life for everyone; our bodies’ fear responses warn us of potential danger and help keep us safe. However, for individuals with phobias - intense, irrational fears of specific objects or situations - fear is a consistently unpleasant part of their everyday lives. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that approximately 19.2 million Americans over the age of 18 suffer from a specific phobia, and yet there is still an unfortunate stigma associated with anxiety disorders such as phobias. Inaccurate ideas and negative attitudes about anxiety disorders are extremely harmful to the individuals who suffer from these disorders. Several methods of treatment are available for specific phobias and related …show more content…
Many people view phobias as simple fears and do not understand the severe reactions that individuals display after being exposed to their trigger. Contrary to popular belief, specific phobias are far more intense than a simple feeling of fear, and the intensity of the feelings experienced by sufferers is often uncontrollable. After being exposed to a trigger, a phobia sufferer may experience extreme symptoms that are out of their control. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, these symptoms can include heart palpitations, sweating, chills, depersonalization, feelings of imminent danger or doom, fear of dying, and more. Furthermore, a simple fear will usually only cause a reaction once the individual encounters the source of fear; for example, someone who is afraid of spiders will typically only experience fear when they see a spider. However, individuals suffering from specific phobias often avoid certain situations and have trouble living their everyday life due to their anxiety about being exposed to their fear. For example, the ADAA compares the situation of feeling queasy while climbing a tall ladder to the situation of skipping your best friend’s wedding due to the location being on the 25th floor of a hotel. In the first situation, the individual is nervous about heights, but the second situation features someone who is so distraught by the …show more content…
This is ultimately due to the stigma associated with anxiety disorders in general. Many phobia sufferers do not realize that their feelings are valid because of the public misunderstanding what a phobia actually is. “The crucial difference is that phobias are constituted by emotions and behaviors considered irrational and inconsequential, and it is their (perceived absence of) significance that raises questions and eyebrows” (Pull 2008). The survey that I conducted showed that 18% of the people who participated felt that people with phobias are capable of controlling their fear responses; however, this is rarely true. People with phobias are aware of how irrational their fears are, but the intensity of their fear responses often overpowers their mental willpower. The National Institute of Mental Health explains this awareness thusly: “While adults with phobias realize that these fears are irrational, they often find that facing, or even thinking about facing, the feared object or situation brings on a panic attack or severe anxiety.” Furthermore, the stigma associated with anxiety disorders causes many people not to seek treatment, though they would likely benefit from it. The National Institute of Mental Health states that only 38% of individuals who suffer from phobias receive treatment for them. This is concerning, since there

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