Fear or disease?

SCARED

Often we come across people who are scared of spiders or lizards or cockroaches or even crowds. Ever thought why people are scared of a certain thing or a living being?

It is due to phobia. A phobia is an irrational and excessive fear of an object or situation. In most cases, the phobia involves a sense of endangerment or a fear of harm.
Phobias are always overreactions to mild dangers, constant fear of rare dangers. But why do we have them in the first place?

Psychologist Urvashi Pawar says, “Basically there are various reasons why people have phobias. It shows what that particular thing represents to them. It is according to extremities of fear and it varies from one person to another.” She adds, “Phobia is an unconscious fear that is present in mind.

I prescribe anti-anxiety medicines to a person, if needed, and even try to connect the phobia to the current world in respect to that person. The most common phobias are the social phobia like public speaking, phobia of dogs, blood, driving at night and agoraphobia, which is a phobia of crowded place.”

There are three basic types of phobia: Agoraphobia is the fear of places or situations which includes stepping out of home, travelling without a companion, or being in the middle of a crowd.

Another type is social phobia which is very common. It is the fear of participating in group reunions, public speaking, conversation with strangers, of initiating a romantic encounter, or talking to people who hold high positions.

Specific phobias are the fear of flying, injection, cockroach, dog, blood, lift, driving or staying in enclosed and restricted places such as tunnels or traffic jams. “I am petrified of spiders. I used to dream about them when I was a kid. I used to get palpitations if I encountered a spider. Although the situation has improved and now I can at least kill one if find it,” says Devaleena Kar, a professional.

Tanha Bhalla says, “I have a phobia of traffic since 10 years. I just cannot cross a road alone if there is traffic. Either I take rickshaw or use the underpass.”

Though there are not many treatments to cure phobias, but exposure treatment can help in overcoming them. In this treatment, the patient is exposed to the object that one is afraid of. Another type of treatment is in which the patient is confronted by the object that one is scared of for an extended length of time and without an opportunity to escape.

Another method used in phobia treatment is counter-conditioning. In this method, the patient is taught new ways to respond towards the object one is afraid of.

“I have a phobia of deep water since childhood. I don’t know how to swim and that is why I am scared to even go inside the water. I need motivation and people with me to go inside the water,” says Tripti Goel, a professional. “I feel uncomfortable to even look down from tall buildings or by travelling in a cable car between hills since childhood,” shares Aditya Pal, a student, who has phobia of heights.

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