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What are phobias?
The NHS says, “A phobia is an overwhelming and debilitating fear of an object, place, situation, feeling or animal.”
They’re categorised as more pronounced than regular fears - they develop when a person has “an exaggerated or unrealistic sense of danger about a situation of object”.
If a phobia becomes extremely severe, the person suffering from it can end up organising their life around avoiding the thing they are scared of, which can restrict their day-to-day, interfere with their life and cause a lot of distress.
What causes phobias?
A phobia doesn’t stem from a single cause, but a number of associated factors, such as:
- It could be associated with a particular incident or trauma in someone's life
- It may be a learned response that someone develops early in life from someone like a parent or a sibling
- Genetics could also play a role, as there’s evidence that suggests that some people are born with a tendency to be more anxious than others
How to treat a phobia
The NHS states, “Almost all phobias can be successfully treated and cured.”
Simple phobias can be treated through gradual exposure to the source of the fear, which is known as desensitisation or self exposure therapy.
This can be achieved with the help of a professional or as part of a self help programme.
The NHS says that treating more complex phobias often takes longer and involves talking therapies, such as:
- Cognitive behavioural therapy