Understanding the Difference Between Fear and Phobia

By November 22, 2021 No Comments

Fear Vs. Phobia: The Difference You Must Know

What Fear Means?

We, humans, feel many emotions, feelings, and sentiments, and fear is one of them – an emotional response to a real or perceived threat. Fear is a normal and healthy human instinct to protect themselves from harm and looming danger, often confused with phobia. In comparison, it’s merely a mental and physical reaction brought on by sudden events or experiences. understanding the difference between fear and phobia, you can read this in this article.

Even babies have those natural fear instincts that gear them up in fight mode to protect them from what’s happening around them. When that event passes, the fear also goes away with it. For example, children of age 3-6 usually fear imaginary things such as dark monsters and strange noises. In normal adult circumstances, we can manage our fears through reasonable and logical explanations, and it does not take over our lives. However, a phobia can bring a little bit of a twist.

What Exactly Is A Phobia?

Psychologists describe phobia as intense anxiety that we experience in certain situations. Phobias can cause interference with an individual’s daily routine, affecting their quality of life and ability to function in personal and professional lives. There are many different types of specific phobias, such as insects, animals, flying, heights, storms, needles, seeing blood, and situational phobias (e.g., closed spaces, elevator).

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), 8.7% (19 million) of the US population experiences specific phobias. Research also states that women are twice more likely to be affected than men. Typically, the symptoms start to appear in childhood, from 7 years of age and onwards. A phobia often is irrational and poses little to no danger. It can be your childhood fear or develop in later life. The best way to overcome your phobias is to understand them first. Having a phobia doesn’t mean you’re crazy; understanding the difference and many phobias are common and treatable. The four most common types of phobias include Animal Phobias, Situational Phobias, Blood-Injection-Injury Phobias, and Natural Environment Phobias.

The Difference

Fear can transform into a phobia when the anxiety gets intense, and your mental, emotional, or physical response starts interfering with your everyday life. To distinguish fear from a phobia, identify the point where fear grows intense and causes some level of impairment; the fear is now successfully transformed into a phobia. For example, a woman who was afraid of spiders and got jitters if a spider crawled on her arm came to a point where she wouldn’t go out at night just because she couldn’t see where they were hiding.

Phobia can be mild or example, and an example of that can be the fear of flying. When someone has aerophobia, they sweat, shake, scream, cry, or have other physiological responses while on a flight. understanding the difference And if the phobia is extreme, they may even be unable to board the flight at all. Experiencing butterflies when staring down from the top of a skyscraper building or climbing a tall ladder is a normal fear, but turning down an incredible job opportunity just because the office is on the 15th floor of the building is a phobia. For more understanding of the difference between fear and phobia, you can check out this helpful article.

Treatments To Overcome Your Phobias

Exposure/Response Prevention therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy are the most effective treatments to overcome phobias.

1. Exposure/Response Prevention therapy

The ERP therapy focuses on changing your responses to the object or situation that you fear. Gradual, repeated exposure to the source of your specific phobia and the related thoughts, feelings, and sensations may help you learn to manage your anxiety.

2. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT involves exposure combined with other techniques to learn ways to view and cope with the feared object or situation differently. You acknowledge alternative beliefs about your fears and bodily sensations and the impact they’ve had on your life.

The Takeaway

The terms phobia and fear are often used interchangeably, but they’re two different concepts. To get diagnosed, first, you need to understand how your specific fear or phobia impacts your life or those of others around you. The good news is, you’re not alone. Houston OCD Counseling is at your service. We can help carry out a psychological exam, determine if you’ve a fear or a phobia, and provide you with the treatments you require.

Contact The Professionals

At Houston OCD Counseling, our licensed professional counselors work with patients dealing with OCD, specific phobias, social anxiety disorders, panic attack disorders, health anxiety, and other disorders. We provide individual counseling using evidence-based behavioral treatment such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and exposure/response prevention therapy.

For more information, please feel free to reach out to us.

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