Phobias - Jenna Suchower

Some common phobias are the fears of germs, spiders, dogs, confined spaces, and heights.

What are Phobias?

Phobias are a type of anxiety disorder that cause severe fear over a specific item, idea, or situation.  They are usually identified as being irrational, and will often cause the person to purposely avoid whatever it is they are afraid of.  A person with a phobia will likely be anxious most of the time, and have instances of sheer terror.

Phobias are classified into two main groups:

          - Specific Phobias :  These phobias are fears of specific objects and nouns.  Some                                                      examples are Arachnophobia (fear of spiders), Acrophobia                                                          (fear of heights), and Claustrophobia (fear of heights).

          - Social Phobias :  These phobias will cause severe anxiety in social and public                                                        situations.  For example, Glossophobia (fear of public speaking),                                              Sociophobia (fear of public judgement and evaluation), or                                                          Anthropophobia (fear of people and society).

The prefrontal cortex and the amygdala are the main parts of the brain that control fear.

Who has Phobias?

According to an American study done by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), says that between 8.7 %  and 18.1 %  of Americans have some type of phobia.  Phobias are also found to be more common in females than males.  A Swedish study showed that 26.5 % of females had phobias and only 10.9 % of males did.  

Some phobias are also more likely to occur than others.  The Swedish study showed that women are around four times as likely to have animal phobias than men.

This chart shows America's top ten reported phobias. The number one phobia in America is Arachnophobia, the fear of spiders.

How can it be treated?

There are many treatments that claim to cure phobias.

         - Therapy :  There are a few therapy techniques used to help people overcome their                                    fear.

                                       -Behavioral Therapy has a person slowly alter their behavior                                                         towards their fear by changing specific actions that cause the fear.

                                       -Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy teaches the person new skills to help                                           overcome their fear, so they can learn how to control their fear                                                   impulses.

                                       -Prolonged exposure is a type of Psychotherapy, and it involves the                                            person to spend long amounts of time with the object of their fear,                                            in the hope that they will grow accustomed to it and not fear it.

         - Systematic Desensitization : Similar to prolonged exposure, this technique slowly                                                                     allows the person to become accustomed to the object                                                                   of fear.  The Wikipedia article on phobias describes                                                                       the process like so: "For example, a woman who is                                                                         afraid of snakes could start the process by looking at                                                                     pictures of snakes, transition to videos of snakes, then                                                                   possibly to seeing snakes in a cage, touching the                                                                             snake, and then finally being able to hold it without                                                                       fear."

         - Medication : Antidepressants have some effect on some cases.  Benzodiazepines                                            are effective against severe symptoms, but these medications have                                            been advised not to be used in the long term.

An example of Systematic Desenstization

Bibliography

1.) Cherry, Kendra. "Phobia List." About Education. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Feb. 2015.
           <http://psychology.about.com/od/phobias/a/phobialist.htm>.

2.) Mental Health America. "Phobias." Mental Health America. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Feb.
           2015. <http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/phobias>.

3.) "Phobia." Wikipedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Feb. 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/
           wiki/Phobia>.

4.) "Specific Phobia." Wikipedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Feb. 2015.
           <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Specific_phobia>.

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