Symptoms of Phobia
Once the fear has been triggered the physical reaction can lead
to a cycle of distress. The body responds to any naturally
stressful situation by tensing up. This helps the person perform
better. However if the reaction is misinterpreted and excessive
this can lead to unnecessarily high levels of tension.
Although a sufferer may realise that the muscular pain and
breathing difficulties they are experiencing are merely a
response to stress if the bodily reaction is extreme enough it
may give rise to a fear of the symptoms of phobia: a fear of the
fear. Anticipation of this discomfort, the fear of chest pain or
hyperventilation can produce the stress that triggers these
Some of the physical symptoms of phobia include:
As fear levels increase, the mental processes intensify and
distort. A phobic person will overestimate the danger they are
in and underestimate their ability to cope. For example someone
with a fear of driving will overestimate the dangers of road
travel while underestimating their own driving ability. In this
way they may lose all sense of perspective. They expect disaster
to be the only outcome. This is called catastrophising.
Some of the common mental processes associated with phobia
ignoring the positive
looking for disaster
thinking in all or nothing terms.
As for psychological treatment, among the most effective are CBT
(Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and CGBT (Cognitive Group
Behavioural Therapy). In supportive environments, social phobics
can learn to address their fears and can steadily overcome them.
With the help of a therapist, they can develop strategies for
coping and find a more constructive way of viewing their fears.
The advantage of group therapy is that they can meet and
interact with fellow sufferers, which will help them to realise
that they are not facing their problems alone.