When you suffer from a specific phobia, you will have a persistent and intense fear of a certain animal, object or situation. Fear of spiders, for example.

When confronted with your fear, it will lead to escape behaviour and avoidance. If it is impossible to flee or avoid what you fear, an intense fear will arise. The avoidance behaviour or fear itself can be so intense that it hinders, affects or endangers your daily life.

Afterwards, you will often realise that the fear was not in proportion to the actual threat, but, in the moment, that can be very difficult.

 

Types of specific phobias

There are various different types of phobias:

  • animals (such as a dog phobia)
  • nature (such as a storm phobia)
  • situational (such as a fear of flying)
  • blood-injection-injury type (a phobia for needles or injections)
  • other (such as vomiting anxiety, also called emetophobia)

Almost all specific phobias occur at a young age. A fear of certain things is common amongst young children and is also normal. For most children, those fears disappear over time. However, in a minority, these fears intensify and become chronic.

 

Therapy

Surprisingly, only a small group of people with a specific phobia seek professional help, even though the anxiety complaints often do not disappear by themselves. This is because the anxiety is often easy to avoid. Usually, people only seek help when it is no longer possible to avoid the anxiety-inducing situation and the anxiety begins to hinder everyday life.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is usually used to treat anxiety complaints. An important part of this is exposure; confronting that which evokes fear. This can be done both in thought and in reality. Research has shown that cognitive behavioural therapy is an effective treatment for this phobia. Of course, every step of the treatment will be in consultation between you and your practitioner.

 

NiceDay exercise

Schedule an event outside your comfort zone in the NiceDay app. Turn it into an exposure exercise and confront your fear. Compare what you expected to experience with what you actually experienced!

 

Source:

Keijsers, G. P. J., Van Minnen, A., Verbraak, M., Hoogduin, C. A. L. & Emmelkamp, P., (2011). Protocollaire behandelingen voor volwassenen met psychische klachten.

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