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Phobias: what are they, and how are they treated?

Phobias: what are they, and how are they treated?


The fear is part of life and from a very early age, we are taught to live with it. Whether through stories or popular tales like the bogeyman or the big bad wolf, the objective is to put fear in children in order to prevent reckless attitudes and transmit moral teachings.

Feeling fear is normal because, on balanced levels, it tells us how to act in certain situations. Get to know more about phobias.

1. What are Phobias?

The phobia, in psychology, is an anxiety disorder and, according to the American National Institutes of Health, affects about 20% of the world population.

Phobias are characterized by excessive and irrational fear.People with phobia they feel so afraid that they avoid certain situations, people and places so as not to be exposed to danger. When exposed to the object causing the phobia, these individuals show a range of physical symptoms: shortness of breath, tachycardia, tremors and panic attacks.

2. Types of Phobias

Here are some types of phobias:

    • Animal Type: caused by animals or insects. It usually starts in childhood;
    • Natural Environment Type: referring to aspects of nature such as storms, water, height;
    • Blood Type – Injection – Wound: the presence of these elements arouses the phobia;
    • Situational Type: caused by a specific situation, such as riding a plane, riding on public transport, going through bridges and tunnels, among others;
    • Other phobias.

3. How are Phobias treated?

Self-discovery is an extremely important point in the process of treating phobias. It is a starting point for learning that allows the patient to be authentically freed from their past.

It is also important for the patient to recognize that phobias are common and not characteristic of “crazy people” and that they can even be treated with some ease.

The most common treatment for phobias is cognitive-behavioral therapy, which has been shown to be very effective.

The cognitive component works to restructure distorted thoughts, while the behavioral component aims at gradually exposing, in a safe and controlled environment, situations that give rise to fear. This desensitization is combined with exercises and anxiety management techniques.

On the other hand, the psychodynamic approach, also widely used in this type of treatment, influences the understanding of the entire symbology associated with the disease and its respective symptoms.

In the treatment of phobias, the patient will also learn to control their breathing. Deep breathing allows oxygenation of the brain and the rest of the body, which can help a person to calm down when they start to feel anxiety or panic, and to rationalize their fears.

Relaxation techniques and some activities such as yoga, meditation, and muscle relaxation are very beneficial in significantly reducing the signs of panic attacks.

Phobias, included in anxiety disorders, cause great suffering for both the patient and their family, closing the subject in the world of their fears.

Inpatient treatment for phobias has several direct benefits for the patient, in addition to other secondary gains. Firstly, it allows for a specialized and personalized intervention, which can be adjusted daily to the patient’s needs, also allowing him to leave his “comfort zone”, where he often takes refuge. Although the patient often arrives “pushed” to hospital for the treatment of phobias, he or she has to want it so that he can continue to progress.

In the treatment center, daily tasks are fully planned, times filled with therapy groups, written assignments, individual therapies, workshops and some surprise activities. During free time, the focus is on socializing, sport, walking and contact with nature.

It is intended, with this wealth of approaches, that the patient broadens and tears horizons, that he questions himself, that he re-establishes life goals, whether more distant (completing a course, getting a job, getting married…), or immediate ones (whatever will do this afternoon or on the weekend). By establishing demanding but realistic plans, the patient can advance to the second – and more difficult – step: act!


A phobia is a persistent, irrational fear of a particular object, animal, activity, or situation that poses little or no real danger, yet still causes extreme anxiety.

There are several types of phobias, ranging from intense fear of social situations (social phobia), of places full of people (agoraphobia) to fear of animals, objects or specific situations (simple phobias).

When anxieties and fears persist, problems can arise. As much as we may wish that as we grow, fears disappear, sometimes the opposite happens, and fears become bigger and more intense. Anxiety turns into an extreme and persistent phobia or fear.

Do not ignore this problem, even if it is not directly with you. Always count on us.


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