How to overcome phobias, according to psychology
Diagnosing phobias and treating them is finally starting to evolve within the medical community when it comes to treating mental and psychological problems.
After defining phobias in the previous Global Young Voices article "How phobias are different from fears, according to psychology," it is important to note that there are various ways to overcome a phobia. One key way is through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is the suggested therapy for phobias. It consists of exposing the person to their fears while also helping them to change their dysfunctional beliefs.
Medication can be helpful as well through the use of some antidepressants and antianxiety medications. These are used to reduce anxiety and emotional symptoms that are a result of phobias.
Learning relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and meditation, can help in increasing the person’s ability to control the physical symptoms related to the phobia. These can include such things as a racing heartbeat, feelings of suffocation or a lack of air, sweating, etc.
Self-help is equally important and beneficial when it comes to learning how to alleviate the symptoms of phobias. When someone is motivated enough to overcome their phobias, several steps are put into action.
The first step to take is to identify the fear; avoiding it will only induce more negative repercussions in the long-term. It is also essential for someone to realize that they are not alone, that fear is normal and that with time they will be able to take small steps toward reaching their ultimate goal: to overcome their fear(s).
The second step is to face their fears and to let go of what is holding them back. Facing a fear happens gradually and in a controlled way to prevent a more damaged outcome. For example, with a fear of dogs, facing the fear would not be petting a huge dog at first, but by looking at a dog’s picture, then a video and then gradually approaching dogs of different sizes. It is about climbing the “fear ladder,” without pressuring one’s self to accomplish all their goals within a reasonable period of time.
And finally, practice makes perfect. Living with a phobia can make someone avoid and restrain themselves from participating in different activities. So, to overcome it, they must practice and expose themselves to more and more of what is related to their fear. Practicing is the only way that guarantees real and substantial progress.
After all, one should be conscious that their fear will not hurt them, and it is up to them to help themselves get better with time. Obstacles are going to be present along the fear ladder, but with practice and time, people with phobias can come to realize that they were able to climb that ladder successfully.