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Chicago Therapist Treats Fears and Phobias

phobia and fears treatment in Chicago IL

If you need a therapist that treats fears and phobias in Chicago, I urge you to avail upon my counseling services. Nearly everyone has at least one or two irrational fears for example mice, or your annual physical checkup. For the majority people, these fears are only slightly bothersome. However when a fear(s) become severe and cause an incredible amount of anxiety and affect the persons everyday life, they are called phobias.

A phobia is classified as an anxiety disorder that involves a relentless fear of a specific object, place, or situation that is disproportional to the danger or threat posed by the object that is feared.

The individual with the phobia will go to incredible lengths to escape the object they fear while experiencing a great deal distress if the object is encountered.

Phobias are the leading type of mental illness in adult women. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that roughly 5% to % of Americans has at least one phobia. Specific phobias affect an estimated 6.3 million adults.

Phobia Help in Chicago

Therapist for Phobias Chicago IL

It is considered normal and even helpful to experience some type of fear in a dangerous situation. Fear serves as a protective perseverance, activating our body’s automatic “fight-or-flight” response. When our bodies and minds are aware and ready for action, we can respond quicker and be able protect ourselves faster.

With phobias the perceived threat is significantly embellished or nonexistent. For example, almost anyone would be intimidated by a snarling Pit Bull, but it is irrational to be scared by a friendly Tea Cup dog the owner is holding, this would signify that you may have a dog phobia.

Four Types of Specific Phobias

There are four different kinds of specific phobias, dependent upon the object or situation that is feared, including:

Animal Phobias – Each animal/insect has its own specific name here are a few examples – spiders (Arachnophobia), mice (Musophobia), and snakes (Ophidiophobia.)Animal/Insects are the most common specific phobia.

Situational Phobias  Involve a fear of a specific situation, for example driving, flying, and riding in an elevator.

Natural Environment Phobias – This phobia would include things such as thunder and lighting, caves, or being near any body of water.

Blood/Injection/Injury Phobias – As the name implies this is a phobia of being injured, needing an injection, having a blood test, or seeing blood.

Other Phobias – These phobias can be loud noises, falling, or costume character, like a clown.

Specific Phobia Symptoms

An individual who is diagnosed with a specific phobia disorder will experience substantial and persistent fear when in the company of, or expecting the company of, the object they fear that can be any object, situation, or place. The majority of phobias develop during childhood, however they can develop in adulthood as well.

If a person has a phobia, they undoubtedly realize that their fears are irrational, yet they still cannot control their feelings. Just the thought of the object or situation they fear makes them anxious. Then when they are actually exposed to the object or situation, the fear is automatic and overpowering. Anxiety Therapist Chicago is here to provide tools that can work.

The experience of encountering the fear is so terrifying that the individual will likely go to extreme lengths to avoid the phobia. Which is not only an inconvenience, but they may even feel forced to change their entire lifestyle. For example, a person with claustrophobia, may turn down a very nice job offer if they have to ride in an elevator. If an individual has a fear of heights, they may have to drive an extra 30 miles to avoid having to drive over a tall bridge.

Chicago Therapist Provides Treatment for Fears

Therapist for Fears in Chicago IL

Here is a list of Most Common Types of Specific Phobias:

  • Fear of spiders
  • Fear of snakes
  • Fear of heights
  • Fear or closed spaces
  • Fear of storms
  • Fear of needles and injections
  • Fear of public speaking
  • Fear of flying
  • Fear of germs
  • Fear of illness or death.

Physical Symptoms of Phobias

. Heart palpitations

. Shaking/Trembling

  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath

. Feeling like you’re being smothered

  • Choking sensation
  • Chest pain/discomfort
  • Nausea/ stomach discomfort
  • Dizziness/lightheaded/faint feeling
  • Depersonalization/Feeling of things not being real
  • Feeling of going crazy/ or “losing control”
  • Fear of drying
  • Chills/Hot flashes.

Emotional Symptoms of a Phobia Are as Follows:

  • Overwhelming feeling of anxiety and/or panic
  • Extreme feeling of needing to escape
  • Feeling detached or that things are unreal
  • Fear of passing out or dying
  • Feeling powerless/knowing that you are overreacting, but unable to control the fear.

Symptoms of Blood-Injection-Injury Phobia

The symptoms of blood/injection/injury phobias are a little different from the types of phobias.

  • Upon seeing a needle or blood, the individual experiences fear and disgust
  • Just like other phobias, the individual at first feels anxious, and their heart rate increases. However, unlike other types of phobias, the increase in heart rate is followed by a sudden drop in blood pressure that leads to dizziness, nausea, and fainting.
  • The fear of fainting is normal in all specific phobias, the blood/injection/injury phobia is actually the only phobia where fainting may occur.

Social Phobia

Social phobia, also known as social anxiety disorder, is the fear any type of social situation where an individual may feel like they are being judged or become embarrassed. Those who have social phobia may be unreasonably self-conscious and anxious of humiliating themselves in front of other people. The anxiety about how the individual will look and what other people may think can cause a person to avoid specific social situations they would enjoy.

Symptoms of Social Phobia

  • Feeling extremely self-conscious
  • Extreme shyness
  • Fast heart rate
  • Stomachache
  • Crying
  • Dizziness
  • Intense fear of being judged by others
  • Feeling timid about talking to classmates (sitting alone at lunch, avoiding eye contact, afraid to speak during a group project)
  • Experiencing physical and emotional sensations of anxiety.

Agoraphobia (Fear of Open Spaces)

Agoraphobia is one more phobia that really does not fit into any of the four categories of specific phobias. Originally thought to be a fear of open spaces and public places, it is now believed that agoraphobia cultivates as a “side effect” of panic attacks.

If an individual is afraid of experiencing another panic attack, they become extremely anxious about being in a place or situation where being able to escape would be challenging or embarrassing, or where assistance would not be instantaneously available to them. For example, the person is likely to stay away from crowded places such as the movie theater, concert, or a shopping mall. They are also likely to avoid riding in cars, any type of public transportation and especially on an airplane where escape is literately impossible. In the most severe cases, people may only feel safe inside their home.

Symptoms of Agoraphobia

  • Fear of being alone
  • Fear of being in public alone
  • Fear of being in a crowded place
  • Fear of being any place where it may be difficult to leave, such as an elevator or airplane
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Over dependent on other people
  • Unable to leave their home or only able to leave if someone they have a great deal of trust in goes with them.

In addition, the individual may experience symptoms of a panic attack including the following:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Profuse sweating
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shaky, tingling or numb sensation
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Lightheadedness
  • Abrupt cold chills or flushing
  • Nausea or diarrhea
  • Fear or felling loss of control
  • Fear of dying.

Impact of Specific Phobia on Daily Life

A sure sign that a fear is actually a phobia is when it restricts an individual’s family life, social activities, and professional life. An individual who suffers from a specific phobia may turn down a job promotion because they would have to fly to another office once a month. Whether specific phobias are inherited or learned is still being researched. Two individual studies propose that genetic factors may be a factor in the development of phobias. Brain images show hyper activation of the amygdala (“is part of the brain that processes emotions, stress response, and aggressive behavior”) along with other parts of the brain in individuals who have phobias.

An individual may have a phobia that considerably impacts her/his quality of life. Individuals with several types of specific phobias that start at a young age are more likely to experience substantial impacts on the quality of their life. These individuals are also much more likely to develop other types of mental disorders. Females are at a higher risk of having several types of phobias. Phobias can also lead to other medical disorders if not treated early. For example a person with a phobia of vomiting may developed eating disorders.

People who have phobias score lower on the quality of life scale. Therapy has provided improvements in their QOL (quality of life scale) score.

Chicago Therapist Treatments for Phobias

There are a few commonly used treatments for phobias that do not include the use of medication.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), is conceivably the most common form of treatment for phobias. Cognitive behavioral therapy is centered on the interconnectedness of a person’s feelings, beliefs, thoughts, and behaviors.

According to the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy, a person who suffers from phobias believes that the object or situation they fear is fundamentally dangerous.

Their belief then leads to a negative automatic thought(s) that happen the second the feared object or situation is encountered. The involuntary thoughts lead to a phobic behavioral reaction.

Behavioral techniques that may be used as part of CBT include systematic desensitization and flooding. Cognitive techniques include psychoeducational techniques and cognitive reframing techniques.

Talk Therapy

Talk therapy can be beneficial for phobias in Chicago IL. When talk therapy is used to treat a phobia(s), there are usually two goals. The first is to help the individual overcome the phobia. While second goal is to help the individual learn to manage the remaining fear, if there is any, so that the person is able to live a normal and functional life.

Guided Imagery & Mindfulness

Guided imagery characteristically involves listening to the therapist walk the individual through a visualization exercise. Throughout the process, the person is focused on the professional’s voice, imagery, and the music. Mindfulness focuses on becoming aware of all incoming feelings and thoughts and accepting them, but not reacting or attaching to them.

A combination of CBT, talk therapy, guided imagery, and mindfulness can be very beneficial for individuals who are struggling with depression as well as phobias. Contact our Chicago Therapist Frank Moore about therapy for fears and phobias. Readily available at Anxiety Therapist Chicago.