Agoraphobia, social phobias and specific isolated phobias account to the group of phobias. Animal phobias, fear of heights, claustrophobia, fear of exams, dental phobia or fear of flying are the most common specific phobias. In severe forms, they can lead to invalidity and social isolation, as those affected are no longer able leave their house. Once recognized correctly, phobias can be treated successfully within a short time.
- Agoraphobia with or without panic disorder
- Social phobias
- Specific phobias
What is a specific phobia?
Specific phobia is an anxiety disorder with continual fear of an object, location or a situation, whereby the perception of a threat or danger is disproportionate to the fear-inducing factor. The affected individual tries vehemently to avoid the fear-inducing situation. If this is not possible, an immediate and uncontrollable anxiety reaction results, which can develop into a panic attack. These irrational fears and reactions go hand in hand with an impairment to social and professional life. There are five sub-types of specific phobias: Animals, environment, blood splattering injuries, situations and others. The social phobia with fear in the social context is a stand-alone diagnosis.
A person with a specific phobia experiences a significant and ongoing fear in the presence of an fear-inducing stimulus, be it an object, a location or a situation.
Criteria for specific phobias are:
- Characterised fear of an object or a situation
- Narrow stimulus-response connection: The phobic objects/situations always or almost always trigger an immediate fear response
- Consequences: Avoidance behaviour or enduring in the situation with extreme fear
- The anxiety is disproportionately related to the actual threat
- The anxiety is ongoing (typically ≥ 6 months)
- Degree of difficulty: Suffering or impairments
Effects of specific phobia on everyday life
A sign whether an anxiety concerns a specific phobia is the impairment to social and professional life. The affected individual gives up, for example, professional opportunities because they have to fly, or cancels a meeting in a high-rise building. In the case of an anxiety that limits the social and professional life and negatively impacts performance, self-confidence and relations, a social phobia could be concerned. This indicates that genetic factors could play a role in the emergence of a phobia. Imaging techniques show a hyperactivity in the amygdala and other regions of the brain.
An isolated phobia can significantly reduce quality of life. People with multiple phobias and an early start are most commonly affected by significant effects on quality of life. If untreated or treated too late, phobias can lead to other physical and mental illnesses to invalidity.
Neuroscientists have established an abnormal hyperactivation in the risk response among anxiety patients. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has proven successful in down-regulating the response to threats. It is also called confrontation or exposure in vivo and is the first-choice therapy.
Exposure in sensu, a form of desensitisation, is one way of confronting the fear in a safe environment. We work with clinical hypnosis and EMDR (Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing).
The combination of both procedures is the most effective way to treat specific phobias. Psychoeducation, anxiety and stress management round off our psychotherapy programme.
You will be liberated from your fears in just one week.
Please visit CALDA Clinic for the inpatient one-week CALDA Specific Phobia Program.