A phobia is a fear of something/some place/feeling that is usually out of proportion to the reality. Most people may think they have a phobia, maybe of spiders or snakes but fear and phobia are different. A phobia causes unpleasant physical symptoms, and anxiety.
In severe cases, even thinking about the animal/event/place can cause people to have these physical symptoms.
Physical symptoms commonly seen in people with phobias include palpitations, increased heart rate, sweating, chest pains, fast breathing and nausea.
These symptoms may be so severe, that they stop people from living their daily life and force them to change their lifestyle in order to avoid eliciting the phobia.
There is no known cause for phobias, however we do know that when a person becomes anxious, their is a release of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol which cause the physical symptoms.
Their are different types of phobias and some of the commonest include
The most effective treatment for any phobia is cognitive behavioural therapy. The techniques used in this therapy help you to change certain ways that you think, feel and behave. They involve seeing a qualified psychotherapist for usually hourly sessions weekly or fortnightly depending on your need to help identify triggers of phobia and then help you come up with coping strategies and behavioral changes to overcome the phobia.
There are times when people who have severe phobia may require medications, as an adjunct to psychotherapy. Medications include those used for short term relief of anxiety such as benzodiazepines, and long term such as anti-depressants (SSRIs). A doctor will be able to advise you if CBT alone or in combination with medications is right for you.