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Understanding Unreasonable Fear
Psychological phobias are what most people think of when the term “phobia” is mentioned; an intense and unreasonable fear, despite clear evidence that such fear is not necessary. There are hundreds of different psychological phobias that can appear in patients for different reasons. When a person has a psychological phobia, they will often experience:
- Feelings of terror or dread
- Intense anxiety when near the object of the phobia
- Panic attacks
- Difficult in social situations (depending on the prevalence of the phobia)
It can be hard to understand why a person with a psychological phobia is afraid or why they act unreasonably, but that’s the nature of the phobia itself. If you or someone you know has a psychological phobia, it can be very helpful to seek treatment and to look for therapy and counseling.
What Causes a Psychological Phobia?
A psychological phobia can be caused by a traumatic experience, but no direct contact with the object of the phobia is necessary. Many people will get arachnophobia, a fear of spiders, without ever encountering a dangerous spider. Phobias usually begin as a person perceives danger from a certain source. The person then amplifies that danger and begins to obsess on the source of that danger.
There has been a great deal of evidence to suggest that many phobias are caused by genetic factors or by social pressures. A therapist will try to work with a patient with psychological phobias to discover the reason for the condition, as this is an essential step towards forming a treatment plan for persons with phobias.
Real and Fictional Phobias
Some patients may appear to have phobias, but on further inspection, their fears are not unreasonable or unwarranted. For instance, a patient may be afraid of sunlight, but a medical diagnosis could show that the person is hypersensitive to sunlight. The fear is therefore not unreasonable, and the phobia is not psychological.
If you believe that your phobia is not psychological, seeking a diagnosis from a medical doctor is a good first step. This is the best way to treat the cause of your condition, regardless of whether you have a medical issue or a psychological phobia, as the doctor will be able to let you know what steps to take next.
Getting Treatment for a Phobia
When a patient has a phobia, treatment should begin immediately. A phobia can take a long time and be a very extensive process. Patients are often treated with cognitive behavioral therapy, which takes a multi-stage approach to give the patient a better understanding of phobias. The patient is taught new ways to deal with their phobias and how to handle fears in a more healthy and productive way. Some phobias may be treated with group therapy sessions.
Many patients with phobias also have other behavioral or emotional disorders, and these will need to be treated with the phobias. For instance, many patients with psychological phobias have obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Behavioral therapy is absolutely necessary for these patients.
Many patients with psychological phobias are worried about the cost of treatment. Phobia treatment can take months and requires a qualified psychologist, psychiatrist, or sociologist. This can make it expensive, but there are low-cost options for patients on a budget or patients who do not have the necessary means to pay for a psychologist.
If you or someone you know has a psychological phobia, seek help immediately. Treatment can stop the condition from getting worse and can lead to relief of the anxiety and fear that comes with a serious phobia.