Do you feel uncomfortable or have terrifying feelings of anxiety? Is there any shortness of breathing, you feel trembling, nausea, chest pain, or feeling of choking? And you have a fear of dying due to a specific thing or object?

If you have such feelings or fears, you need to know this is not simple anxiety, it is a specific phobia. There are different types of specific phobias such as situational, natural, blood, injection, animals, or others. It is an unreasonable fear caused by the presence or thought of a specific object or situation that usually poses little or no actual danger. Exposure to the object or situation brings about an immediate reaction, causing the person to endure intense anxiety, nervousness, or to avoid the object or situation entirely. The distress associated with the phobia and the need to avoid the object or situation can significantly interfere with the person’s ability to function.

The exact cause of specific phobias is not known, but most appear to be associated with a traumatic experience or a learned reaction. Children may express their fear by crying, clinging to a parent, or throwing a tantrum.

Here’s how you can overcome your specific phobia with the help of cognitive behavioral therapy:

  • The first phase, deep muscle relaxation technique, and breathing exercises are the most important because fear involves tension and tension is incompatible with relaxation. 
  • In the second phase, you create a fear hierarchy starting at stimuli that create the least fear and building up in stages to the most fear-provoking. 
  • And lastly, work their way up the fear hierarchy, starting at least unpleasant stimuli, and practicing relaxation techniques as you go. When you feel comfortable with this, move on to the next stage in the hierarchy. You can return to an earlier stage if you become upset and regain your relaxed state. Repeatedly imagine or confront the situation until it fails to evoke any anxiety at all, indicating that the therapy has been successful. 

Written by: Hafiza Kanza Ashfaq Malik 

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