It is normal to be afraid. We have survived as humans due to our fear’s ability to keep us safe, it warns us when something may be dangerous. Often our fear is a normal emotional response to a real or perceived threat. Sometimes though our fear may get out of control, become extreme when there is no real threat. In its attempt to keep us safe it stops us from being able to live our lives. Some people may have a specific thing or situation they fear, or they may experience generalised fear which can translate into generalised anxiety which causes isolation and reduces one’s quality of life.
We may fear spiders, aeroplanes, or heights but we do not allow this fear to greatly impact our lives, we continue to despite it. For some people, though this fear becomes so great it turns into a phobia which is an anxiety disorder that can be debilitating. A phobia is different from fear to the degree it interferes with one’s life. A phobia is accompanied by strong anxiety that interferes with one’s ability to function and negatively impacts one’s quality of life.
When someone with a phobia thinks about or comes in contact with their phobia, they will most likely feel incredibly scared, anxious and nervous. There are also a number of physical symptoms that accompany a phobia:
- Fast heartbeat and/or palpitations
- An upset stomach
There are two main types of phobias:
Specific Phobias tend to centre around one specific animal, object activity or situation. They often develop in youth and may become less severe as we get older. Common specific phobias include:
- Animal phobias: snakes, spiders, dogs
- Environmental phobias: germs, open water, heights
- Situational phobias: going to the dentist, flying
- Bodily phobias: injections, blood, vomit
- Other phobias food items, certain objects
Complex Phobias are harder to avoid and can surround and have a greater impact than specific phobias. These phobias often develop when we are adults and are often rooted in a particular circumstance or particular situation.
Two most common Complex Phobias:
Agoraphobia: This is when someone feels intense anxiety around being in a certain situation or place that is difficult to escape from. Often this fear is centred around experiencing a panic attack in public and feeling trapped, embarrassed or helpless. Often this phobia develops after having one or more panic attacks and they fear having another one and avoid places that may trigger them to have another one. Their fear of having a panic attack in public can lead them to avoid busy or crowded environments, using public transportation and even being alone.
Social Phobia is also known as social anxiety disorder and centres around social interactions and situations. This fear often stops one from connecting and socialising with others due to fear of being rejected or humiliated in front of other people.
What Causes Phobias?
Phobias rarely have a single cause but result due to a number of factors. They can be developed from a particular event or trauma (e.g. being bit by a dog as a child can result in the development of a phobia of dogs). It can also be learned from friends, family or one’s culture (e.g. your mother has a phobia of spiders and thus you develop this fear subconsciously and believe this is an appropriate response to spiders.
Research has also shown a possible genetic link. Some people are born with a tendency toward anxiety. Any existing mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression and long-term stress can feed into the development of a phobia. Regardless of the cause phobias can be treated.
How to Overcome Fears and Phobias with Hypnotherapy
Phobias exist in the subconscious mind and are learned responses. This makes them vulnerable and treatable with hypnotherapy. No matter how many times we tell ourselves our phobia is not life-threatening and try to face it we are blocked with debilitating fear and anxiety that is felt in our mind and body. Hypnotherapy works to communicate with the subconscious mind and changes the way you feel and react to your phobia.
Hypnosis for phobias will put you in a relaxed hypnotic state. This hypnotic state is not the same as “stage hypnosis” and you will not be “knocked out”. Your hypnotherapist will guide you through the process and into a calm state where you will be in control and aware the whole time. You will remember what has occurred during the hypnotic state as you will be conscious of the whole time and able to break the hypnotic trance at any time.
I will gently guide you to different techniques that will help you change your response to the phobia. Each session will be unique to each individual, but you may spend some time getting to the root of your phobia, helping you to remember what triggered it (if one exists). You may gradually and gently confront your phobia from a calm state. Since you are in a calm state your subconscious mind is also calm making it easier to approach and change our fear response to our phobia.