Living with Phobias

Though there are many medications available, often, identifying a phobia means learning to live with one. Living and coping with phobias is an ongoing process. For individuals who do suffer from phobias, life can be a constant struggle to maintain normalcy. Individuals afflicted with phobias have to constantly struggle against and overcome their fears. It takes a great deal of courage, determination and single mindedness to face your worst fears, particularly when they include everyday scenarios and situations that most of us take for granted.

While there are medications that help individuals cope with phobias or rather with the symptoms of phobias, like panic attacks and anxiety, they can often create other complications because of drug dependence and other side effects. For this reason many individuals prefer not to rely on medications, and many psychologists also avoid recommending medications, unless absolutely necessary.  Cognitive behavior therapy sessions and counseling are preferred methods of treatment, but the patient should also be committed to resolving and overcoming the phobia.

Individuals afflicted with phobias are not the only victims however. Loved ones and members of the household are also badly affected, particularly so, when the phobia is a social one. While it can be extremely difficult to live with and make adjustments for someone who has a phobia, it is important that you exercise a great deal of patience and provide the patient with all the support you can. In time a phobia can be overcome or brought under control, but efforts to achieve this will be better facilitated with your support. Support groups and counseling sessions can be of help to both patients and families or care givers. Sharing your experiences and learning about those of others will help create a better understanding of what you are dealing with, and it can also be a healing experience. Support groups are a source of comfort, encouragement and advice, and you can get in touch with them online, or through health care providers in your area.

It is very important that family members and friends are sensitized to the condition, so as to avoid trivializing and ridiculing the victim’s fears. Parents should be particularly cautious about reinforcing any kind of phobia as a disciplinary measure to encourage some other positive behavior. Most phobias develop during childhood, so be particularly attentive to any warning signs that may be developing. Seek professional help in time and do not get bogged down by things like stigma and societal approval. Timely treatment and preventive measures can make a huge difference to the individual’s quality of life over time.

Frequently asked questions
  1. Yujuan Choy, Abby J. Fyer, Josh D. Lipsitz, Treatment of specific phobia in adults, Clinical Psychology Review, Volume 27, Issue 3, April 2007, Pages 266-286, ISSN 0272-7358, 10.1016/j.cpr.2006.10.002.
  2. Origins of Phobias and Anxiety Disorders, Author(s): Michelle G. Craske; ISBN: 978-0-08-044032-3
  3. Harald Merckelbach, Peter J. de Jong, Peter Muris, Marcel A. van Den Hout, The etiology of specific phobias: A review, Clinical Psychology Review, Volume 16, Issue 4, 1996, Pages 337-361, ISSN 0272-7358, 10.1016/0272-7358(96)00014-1.
  4. H.B. Gibson, Hypnosis and behavior therapy: The treatment of anxiety and phobias: J. C. Clarke and J. A. Jackson: Springer, New York (1983). vxiii + 361 pages $26.95, Behaviour Research and Therapy, Volume 22, Issue 3, 1984, Page 325, ISSN 0005-7967, 10.1016/0005-7967(84)90014-7.