A phobia is an irrational fear of specific objects, places or situations, or activities. Although fear itself is a to some degree adaptive, the fear in phobias is irrational, excessive, and disproportionate to any actual danger. Three categories of phobias are important to discuss social phobia, specific phobia, and agoraphobia.
Social phobia is described as a persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations in which the person is exposed to possible scrutiny by others and fears to behave in a way that will be humiliating and embarrassing. Social phobics are anxious when confronted with the feared situation, and those situations will generally be avoided or endured only with some anxiety, if avoidance is impossible. The avoidance behavior with occupational or social functioning. The fear must be unrelated to panic disorder or to somatic disorders. As an example, fear of trembling that result from Parkinson’s disease does not justify a diagnosis of social phobia.
A specific phobia is a generic term for any kind of anxiety disorder that amounts to an unreasonable or irrational fear related to exposure to specific objects or situations. For e.g., fear of certain animals, situations, blood, injection, height etc. As a result, the affected persons tend to actively avoid direct contact with the objects or situations and, in severe cases, any mention or depiction of them. Specific phobias tend to occur with other specific phobias. One study found that 76% of a sample of 915 individuals with a lifetime history of specific phobias had at least one or more additional specific phobias. This finding is consistent with research showing that individuals with specific phobias often report multiple fears on a fear survey. In addition, specific phobias often occur with DSM-IV-TR disorders.
Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder. Agoraphobia may arise by the fear of having a panic attack in a setting from which there is no perceived easy means of escape. Alternatively, social anxiety problems may also be an underlying cause. As a result, sufferers of agoraphobia avoid public and/or unfamiliar places, especially large, open spaces such as shopping malls or airports. In severe cases, the sufferer may become confined to his or her home, experiencing difficulty traveling from this safe place. Although mostly thought to be a fear of public places, it is now believed that agoraphobia develops as a complication of panic attacks.
The Top Ten Most Common Phobias:
Arachnophobia – The Fear of Spiders
Social Phobias – The Fear of being negatively evaluated in social situations
Aerophobia – The Fear of flying
Agoraphobia – The Fear of wide open spaces to which there is no escape
Claustrophobia – The Fear of being trapped in a very confined space
Acrophobia – The Fear of Heights
Emetophobia – The Fear of vomit
Carcinophobia – Fear of Cancer
Brontophobia – The Fear of thunderstorms/lightning
Necrophobia – The Fear of Death (or dead things)
Epidemiology, clinical findings of phobias
Phobias are surprisingly common. In the national comorbity survey, social phobia was reported in 13% of population. While specific phobias were reported in 11%. Specific phobias are more prevalent among woman, where as social phobia affect men and women about equally. Specific phobias begin in childhood, most starting before age 12. Social phobias begin during adolescence, and almost always before age 25. Among specific phobias, the most commonly feared objects or situations are animals, heights, illness, injury, and death.
Persons with social or specific phobias experience anxiety when exposed to feared objects or situations and manifest autonomic arousal and avoidance behavior. Initially exposure leads to an unpleasant subjective state of anxiety. This state is accompanied by physiological manifestations such as rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, and jitteriness. Some people with social phobia fear doing or saying something that would cause humiliation or embarrassment in social situations; others are afraid that people will recognize their anxiety through some outward sign (e.g., blushing, sweating, trembling). In severe cases, the socially anxious person avoids most social encounters and become isolated. For the person with specific phobia, distress varies with exposure to the feared object or situation.
Homeopathic Treatment of Phobia
Homeopathy is one of the most popular holistic systems of medicine. The selection of remedy is based upon the theory of individualization and symptoms similarity by using holistic approach. This is the only way through which a state of complete health can be regained by removing all the sign and symptoms from which the patient is suffering. The aim of homeopathy is not only to treat phobia but to address its underlying cause and individual susceptibility. As far as therapeutic medication is concerned, several medicines are available for homeopathic treatment of phobia that can be selected on the basis of cause, condition, and modalities of the complaints. For individualized remedy selection and treatment, the patient should consult a qualified homeopathic doctor in person. Some important remedies are given below for homeopathic treatment of phobia:
- Aconite – fear or phobia of death, darkness, noisy places, music,. Fear of death during pregnancy, fear of ghosts. Fear of entering trolley car or railway trains. Fear with vexation. Fear of crossing streets. Intense fear with awful anxiety and restlessness
- Stramonium– fear in delirium. Phobia of dogs. Fear caused by hallucinations. Phobia of water, of light, of doing things wrong and being scolded. Fear of darkness, yet horror of glistering objects; of night, of being injured. Great thirst but dreads water.
- Opium – fear persisting after some traumatic experience. When fear causes diarrhea, easily frightened. Fear of death, especially when fright causes timidity.
- Nux vom – fear of fantastic dreams, haunted by fear. Phobia of noise, suitable for nervous and irritable persons.
- Cuprum met – when fear causes spasmodic dyspnoea.
- Mercurius – phobia with desire to escape, as if she had committed some crime.
- Arsenic album – great phobia and anxiety. Fear of being killed with a knife. Fear to be alone, wants company. Great restlessness.
- Cuprum aceticum – fear of bed clothes and house catching fire.
- Silicea – brain-fag. Fixed ideas; thinks only of pains, fears them, searches and counts them.
- Arnica mont. – fear and horror of sudden death, fears some dreadful thing will happen. Rises up in the night and grasps at the heart. Full of nightmare and dreadful dreams. Fear of being struck by those coming towards him.
- Calcaria Carb – anxiety or fear that something terrible and sad will happen, fear that people will observe her confusion of mind, fear of insanity.
- Belladonna – fear of imaginary things or evils, wants to run away, fear of animals of dogs.
- Hyoscyamus – fear of being poisoned, of being injured, of being scolded, of water, of people. Fear en by beasts.
- Succinum – phobia of trains and closed rooms.
- Ignatia – air-raid fear in hysteric person who faint at slightest provocation. Sadness due to fright.
- Bryonia – fear of poverty.
- Gelsemium – fear of bombing and air-raid etc. stage fright, palpitation of heart due to shock from hearing news of anticipated bombing. Tired feeling and trembling. There is restlessness and anxiety running about in this remedy. Fear of falling.
- Argentum Nitricum – over anxious, frightened, hasty individual, fear that death is nearing. Fear of going in a crowd, church or cinema or in stuffy room, where he cannot breathe, such as an elevator or tunnel.
- Phosphorous – fear and anxiety about impending disaster, fear of darkness, of being alone; of suffocation; of thunderstorm; of something bad to happen.
- Lyssin – fear of water, the sight of which creates urge for urination. It is specific when there is fear of water.
- Donald W. Black, Nancy C. Anderson; Introductory Textbook of psychiatry 2010; 183-184
- Michel Hersen, Vincent B. Van Hasselt; advanced abnormal psychology 2001; 292
- Michel B. First, Allan Tasman; Clinical Guide to the diagnosis and treatment of mental Disorders 2009; 335