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Fear is a natural and healthy response we all have to danger. It’s a survival instinct designed to help us avoid and escape threatening situations. Phobias, however, are different. To start with, phobias are more intense than fears - they can lead to severe anxiety and panic attacks for some people.

Phobias develop when someone has an exaggerated or unrealistic fear surrounding a certain situation or object. If this situation or object is common in day-to-day life, the phobia can restrict a person’s life, holding them back from doing what they want to do and causing a lot of distress.

Many phobias exist in our subconscious and are learned responses. This makes them particularly vulnerable to hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy can help you unlearn the fear response, build up your exposure to the phobia and in time ease the associated anxiety.

Here we’re going to look at phobias in more detail and how hypnotherapy for phobias work.

Understanding phobias

A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder. Often you’ll feel the symptoms when you come into contact with the phobia, but for some people, the symptoms can come on simply from thinking about it. When you come across the source of your phobia, you’re likely to feel incredibly scared, nervous and anxious. You may also feel physical symptoms of fear and anxiety, such as:

  • dizziness/lightheadedness

  • sweating

  • fast heartbeat and/or palpitations

  • nausea

  • shaking

  • an upset stomach

If the source of your phobia is something you don’t come into contact with often, this phobia may not interfere with your everyday life. If it is something you are likely to come into contact with day-to-day, however, your phobia may have a larger impact on your life.

Specific phobias

Also known as ‘simple phobias’ this type tends to centre around a specific object, animal, situation or activity. These tend to develop in our youth and may become less severe as we grow older.

Examples of specific phobias include:

  • animal phobias (eg. spiders, snakes or dogs)

  • environmental phobias (eg. heights, germs, open water)

  • situational phobias (eg. visiting the dentist)

  • bodily phobias (eg. having injections, vomit or blood)

  • sexual phobias (eg. fear of getting a sexually transmitted infection or performance anxiety)

  • other (eg. certain objects or food items)

These phobias often surround more everyday activities and can impact a person’s life more than specific phobias. They tend to develop when we’re adults and stem from deep-rooted anxiety about a particular situation or circumstance.

Two of the most common complex phobias are:

Agoraphobia - This is when someone feels anxious about being in a certain place or situation where it’s difficult for them to escape if they have a panic attack. This can lead them to avoid busy or crowded environments, travelling on public transport or even being alone.

Social phobia - Also known as social anxiety disorder, this phobia centres around social situations and interactions. Someone with a social phobia may avoid speaking in front of other people for fear of being humiliated. In some cases, this can stop people from socialising and carrying out everyday tasks.

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