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Of course, everyone is afraid of something from time to time in their life. Often times, fear can be a healthy response to the uncertainties and dangers posed by the world we live in. Fear can help you respond appropriately when you're in a difficult situation; but phobias are something different. While it's true that everyone has fears from time to time, not everyone has a phobia. So what's the difference? What makes one a normal reaction and the other a treatable mental illness?


Phobia and Fear

Since the definition of phobia includes fear, it would be more accurate to first look at what fear is. Fear is part of the "fight or flight" response. The "fight or flight" response is also called the acute stress response, which refers to a type of overstimulation that occurs when you fear a mental or physical threat. When this response arises when there is a real threat, it can be adapted to prepare you to deal with the threat. Your body prepares to either flee from danger or stay and fight it. With this response, the activity of your nervous system and hormone levels change, your heart rate, muscle tension, hearing and the intensity of your other senses increase.

If the phobia; An unrealistic fear of a specific object or situation that does not threaten one's physical and emotional safety, in other words, an extreme version of fear. We can define a phobia as an “intense, irrational and inappropriate fear”. Fear arises as a natural reaction to a real and near-real threat, but the phobia does not have the same basis. When you experience fear, even when there is nothing to fear, your fight-or-flight response comes into play again. If you have a phobia, it would not be wrong to say that your fear is exaggerated. Even though you know your fear is irrational, you continue to be afraid. For example, arachnophobia (arachnophobia) is the fear of spiders. Someone who is afraid of spiders may be afraid of these creatures attacking them in their sleep and may not be able to stop thinking about it. Someone who is afraid of heights; may be afraid of suddenly falling off a building or traveling by plane. People can be afraid of all kinds of things; however, in phobic people, fear intensifies the avoidance/avoidance behavior towards the object or situation. If you have a specific phobia, it is quite possible that you will take drastic measures to avoid what you fear. Therefore, phobias can cause impairments in daily life functionality.

As mentioned above, people can experience fear in the face of anything. A phobia may develop at the point where the fear becomes excessive and makes life difficult for the person. From this point of view, of course, we can say that there are many different phobias. But phobias are grouped under two main branches: simple phobias and complex phobias.

Types of Phobia

Simple phobias can be defined as persistent fears of a single object or situation. These types of phobias can occur at any time from early childhood to early adulthood. These conditioned responses in simple phobia go like this: You are faced with a frightening experience. Your reaction is so deep that you fear encountering this situation again. In the end, even when you just think about confronting your phobic trigger, your body goes into "fight or flight" mode and you avoid situations that might confront you. For example; If you have a spider phobia, you may be scared when you see spiders in the wild, walking on the street, or even browsing social media. However, when you don't see a spider (or something that looks like it), you are unlikely to experience fear.

If you've been there when another person showed signs of panic in response to a phobic trigger, then you are likely to develop a simple phobia as well. This response is a learned response. It is also seen in research that some simple phobias (eg snake phobia) have a genetic component.

Complex phobias are those in which it is more difficult to identify the triggers. It is more difficult to talk about a simple conditioned response here and to identify the real reason behind the fear. For example; Social phobia can be examined under the branch of complex phobias. We can briefly consider social phobia as the fear of being in social environments. Those people; tends to avoid a variety of situations, even if it means missing out on fun activities, friendships, or career opportunities. The thing that people with social phobia fear most in social situations is being judged or humiliated. They feel scared, vulnerable, and anxious even when thinking about social situations. Research suggests that a person's genetic makeup, brain chemistry, and life experience may all contribute to the development of complex phobias.

All of the topics mentioned in the article can be studied with people with phobias. If you are looking for an expert to accompany you on your journey with yourself, you can apply to Lenus Psychology.

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