Fear is as old as humanity and is primarily involved in our ability to survive. She warns us when danger is approaching. Our autonomic nervous system then governs with specific mechanisms that we know as Fight – Flight – Freeze and Faint.
…the fear has a very specific trigger and relates to a certain situation or a very special object. However, one only speaks of a phobia when the fear is very pronounced and significantly affects the course of life and professional and social activities. Phobias are among the most common anxiety disorders.
The fears of objects can be about inanimate objects. One of the most common fears is the fear of needles and injections
Among this category are the animal phobias, zoophobia being the best known. The most common are the fear of insects (akarophobia) such as spiders (arachnophobia) or cockroaches. Phobias of mice (suriphobia), snakes (ophiophobia) or birds (ornithophobia), such as pigeons, are also widespread.
For the fear of bacteria (bacteriophobia) and the accompanying fear of infections see below under the fears of yourself.
Agoraphobia, or the fear of leaving our home, is the most common phobia and is a manifestation of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Overall, situational fears are the most common, such as acrophobia or fear of heights, claustrophobia (fear of being in closed up spaces), or fear of using certain modes of transportation such as trains, subways, and elevators. Among the phobias of transport, the fear of flying occupies a special position. We would be happy to advise you on therapy to overcome your fear of flying.
Social phobia, or the fear of social situations and the fear of people, is widespread. This fear is very commonly normalized and although very debilitating, it is only considered a reason for treatment when life is severely impaired.
Psychotherapy can provide good relief for social phobia like :
Many of the fears that relate to one’s own behavior lead to other separate clinical pictures:
Hyperhidrosis – situational excessive sweating, but also fear of sweating is a common form of social phobe. The person is afraid of their own body’s reaction to other people.
The fear of getting sick has increased enormously in frequency in recent years. The main concern in most cases is the fear of developing cancer. The people usually undergo intensive self-examinations on a daily basis.
Associated with the fears of disease, is interwoven with the (misophobia/mysophobia) or fear of dirt or contagion. Responding to this phobia can in turn lead to compulsions and obsessions associated with purification rituals and ablutions.
Special mention should also be made of obesophobia, the fear of gaining weight. It is known to be part of a widespread dangerous disorder called anorexia. Please also read the article about eating disorders.
… on the following four levels: thinking, feeling, physical reactions and behavior.
Typical and automatic reactions in fear, phobias and panic attacks are the fight, flight, freese or faint.
The first two are based on an activation of the bodily functions: breathing shallow and fast and the chest cavity contracting. We clench our butt and tense the muscles, especially in the jaw area. The body prepares to attack or to flee.
When we freeze, nervousness and inner restlessness spread, we are internally active while at the same time being physically inactive. Our pulse accelerates, the heart races but the movement is blocked. The extreme form of freezing is fainting.
Attack, flight, and freeze are reactions that are well observed in the animal kingdom. In humans, these automatic reactions also set in, even if a danger is only imagined.
Especially in the panic attack, the palpitations are an additional fear factor, which causes the well-known fear of the fear.
…become fast and jump from one point to another. Concentration is not possible. We often spin off disaster scenarios (rumiation) or increase danger by imagining dangers where none exist. That is, we project fear onto neutral situations. The anticipatory nature of fear sets in motion a self-reinforcing fear-of-fear cycle that perpetuates the anxiety disorder.
…is triggered by the fear of an actual or perceived threat and the feeling of not feeling safe ( a very trauma related feeling) . The feeling of not feeling safe comes to the fore and fuels the anxiety symptoms on the other levels, especially in the body.
A feature of the phobia is avoiding the feared situations or only enduring them with intense fear. At the same time, those affected basically know that their fear is exaggerated and that in reality there is no or no great danger. Nonetheless, avoidance is one of the mechanisms that perpetuate the cycle of fear, avoidance, and fear of fear.
A phobia usually does not arise from a single cause. Different triggers work together in different weights, so that some factors can make you more susceptible to anxiety disorders in general. This includes a certain upbringing, personal predisposition or individual “brain chemistry”.
We often see that anxiety arises when we are under severe stress and also subsides when the stress subsides.
Traumatic situations are sources of extreme stress and anxiety and fears are a arising symptom of it. We see again and again that with successful trauma therapy, fears become less important.
The most successful strategy to treat anxiety and phobia is: avoid avoiding.
This treatment approach aims to gradually expose oneself to the situations that trigger the anxiety. As a result, those affected can experience that fears decrease over time and the unreal character of the fear.
We often see that when our whole system is under a lot of stress, it spawns fears that then subside when the stress subsides.