"The more we interact with and experience something, the more comfortable we are with it"
Unfortunately, fear is a necessary part of life and is essential in keeping us safe from threatening objects and situations. When we’re scared, our bodies trigger the flight-or-fight response, also known as the acute stress response. This physiological response results in the release of hormones such as adrenaline that prepare us to face the danger or run to safety — fight or flight. Our heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate rises.
You might’ve experienced this sensation before, where your body springs to action. This might be coming into contact with a huge spider, your annoying friend jumping out from around the corner to frighten you, or hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia (the fear of long words. We know, how cruel). However, phobias are overwhelming, debilitating fears that can affect a person’s entire life, and are classed as an anxiety disorder. This article will highlight some old and new phobias that have developed, as well as addressing how to manage them.
Trypanophobia — Fear of Needles
Naturally, children are afraid of injections as they’re not used to being jabbed with something sharp and unpleasant, but this usually passes with age and adults can tolerate this discomfort. Needle phobia is the extreme fear of having medical procedures involving injections or butterfly needles that doesn’t go away. This can be very disruptive to someone’s life as it can prevent patients from seeking help when they need it.
If you suffer from this phobia, it’s important that you get this treated. It isn’t something that you can go your whole life avoiding as there may come a time where you need an important blood test or injection — your health is one of the most important things, so try to look after it.
If you’re diagnosed with this phobia, you can be offered a range of psychotherapies. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a popular and effective therapy for challenging and changing the unhelpful ways we think about and perceive things. CBT has a high success rate of 90 per cent, with patients accomplishing remission after around ten sessions of therapy.
Arachnophobia — Fear of Spiders
Granted, not many people like spiders. It’s safe to say that lots of people are terrified of these eight-legged creatures. But for arachnophobes, the mere thought of or glance at an image of a spider can trigger intense feelings of fear and panic. Someone with this fear will likely avoid any sort of situation to avoid potential exposure, for example interfering with their day-to-day functioning, like not entering a certain room where they once saw a spider.
Interestingly, evolutionary psychologists have pinned this phobia to our ancestral primates. Spider bites could leave primates ill or even dead, so the phobia could be part of a survival technique learned to avoid them. Exposure therapy, a method of CBT particularly suited for phobias, is one of the most common treatments of arachnophobia. This works by gradually increasing the level of exposure to spiders in a safe environment, eventually desensitising them over a period of time.
Routine practice of relaxation techniques such as meditation have been recognised as helping treat arachnophobia, allowing us to recognise our emotional reactions to the objects of our fears.
Technophobia — Fear of Technology
Technophobia is a relatively new phobia of the 21st century, with an intense fear of advanced technology and complex devices. The more we interact with and experience something, the more comfortable we are with it. So naturally, teenagers and young adults are happy and able to navigate around technology. Technophobia is more common than you might think and is particularly prevalent in older people.
CBT and exposure therapy are recommended to treat this phobia, attempting to fix the feelings of inadequacy and insignificance that come with this fear.
It’s definitely recommended to seek professional advice if you have a phobia so that you can treat it properly. When you’re ready to overcome it, it’s possible!