Archive for category Phobias

Recognizing and Defeating Agoraphobia

The term “agora” in agoraphobia” is a Greek word and translates as “marketplace”. Now the term is more commonly used to describe a specific type of anxiety disorder that causes a person to avoid any situation that may cause a panic attack. Frequently, this means that an agoraphobic experiences extreme anxiety or fear if required to leave their home. It can also happen in any situation that may cause the sufferer to feel helpless or embarrassed if a panic attack does occur.

Many agoraphobics experience a great deal of anxiety, to the point of panic, in any public setting. This is especially true of any place where there is a crowd, such as a sporting event. The levels of anxiety can be so pronounced that they, literally, trap the individual in their own home.

As with many other types of phobias, treating agoraphobia means facing your fear and that is always very hard. But, there are specific medications and therapies available to help you get past your fears and live a better life.

If you suspect you suffer from agoraphobia, or know someone who might, these are the symptoms most commonly found:
• Afraid of crowded places
• Feeling of helplessness
• Fear of being alone anywhere
• Afraid of being “trapped” somewhere you can’t “escape” such as an airplane, train, or elevator
• Being overly dependent on others
• Not being able to leave your house
• Afraid you may “lose control” in a public place
• Feeling that your physical body is somehow disconnected, or not real

Agoraphobia rarely happens without a panic disorder as well. Most commonly it is a complication of a panic disorder which is a disorder that brings about episodes of fear so intense that they cause equally intense physical symptoms. At their worst, panic attacks are terrifying. So much so that the physical symptoms can easily convince you that you are experiencing a heart attack or are dying.

Some research suggests that agoraphobia can be developed if you mentally begin to make a connection between your panic attack and the situations where those attacks have taken place. Naturally, you will probably want to avoid those situations in the future to prevent more panic attacks. Those who suffer from agoraphobia are most likely to steer clear of any circumstance where it would be embarrassing or hard to leave if a panic attack does happen.

Occasionally, this fear becomes so overwhelming that the sufferer is not capable of leaving the perceived safety of their home. But, in most cases, agoraphobics can beat their fears in most circumstances if they are in the company of a trusted family member or companion.

Regardless of the severity of the agoraphobia, having to live with the symptoms makes life more difficult. While professional treatment will help to get past the fears or, at least, successfully manage them you can also do some things on your own to help the problem.

Avoid Drugs and Alcohol-abusing either illegal drugs or alcohol won’t help. In fact, they will make your panic attack symptoms much worse.

Relax-There are many techniques you can learn and practice at home to help. Some suggestions are yoga or meditation.

Don’t Avoid Your Fear-This is very hard but practicing going to more places where you are not comfortable will render them less frightening. Take small steps at first and ask family or friends for help.

Take Your Medications-Your therapist undoubtedly told you it can take a week or two to begin to see the effects when you start on a specific drug so stick with it and continue to take your medications exactly as your doctor specifies. Read the rest of this entry »

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Are Women Genetically Programmed to Be Afraid of Spiders?

Maybe men, who are forever being called into the kitchen to rid the room of spiders, may need to be a little more understanding with their female partners and should learn not to be too hard on them for their fear and phobia.

Researchers have recently discovered that women may actually be genetically pre-pre-programmed to instinctively be more afraid of our cute little arachnids than men.

Almost from birth, girls younger than a year old learn to associate images and illustrations of spiders as depicted with scary faces. A lot sooner, it would seem according to research, than boys of the same age.

According to these same researchers, during the course of human evolution women have become instinctively more aware and cautious about potentially dangerous or harmful animals. During further research into this theory the scientists showed ten boys and ten girls a colour picture of a spider paired with a scary cartoon character, whilst they sat on the lap of their parent. This test was designed to try and teach the children to be afraid of spiders. They also then showed them two alternative pairings. One was a spider alongside a smiley face and the other a flower next to a frightened face.

The results were surprising. The girls actually spent more time looking at the picture of the happy face than they did the frightened face, which researchers concluded is due to the fact that they ‘expected’ spiders to be associated with fear.

The girls were actually more distrustful of the smiley face as they instinctively associating the spider with the frightened face.

When the boys were tested in the exact same way, they were found to have looked at both sets of images for exactly the same length of time. Showing that the anxiety symptoms in children of both sexes did in fact differ.

The prognosis then was that the boys had no pre-conditioned response which would cause them to associate the spider with fear.

In conclusion the researchers summed up these experiments as showing that girls as young as 11 months have already learnt the relationship between a negative facial expression and a relevant frightening trigger (such as a spider or a snake), where as boys of the same age have not.

Based on these reactions it was summarised that because woman can only procreate a limited number of times when compared to men and that they are also in nature the primary carers for their offspring during their childhood, that evolution had provided a built in wariness, where venomous spiders or snakes etc are concerned. These may have been dangers that were faced millions of years ago, when searching for food and as the threat not only to themselves but also their offspring would have been immense, this sense of fear has been developed through evolution

In addition, where the men were concerned, there would have been less pressure on them to avoid these smaller threats. One because the women were the primary carers for the children, and two because of the risks they took every day when hunting for larger prey.

Statistics suggest that around six percent of the human population are afraid of snakes and that four percent have a phobia about spiders (arachnophobia). Researchers believe that based on those included in these figures that women are four times more likely to have a fear of phobia than men. Read the rest of this entry »

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