Phobias - Treatment Helps Overcome Irrational Fears

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If an irrational fear (a phobia) interferes with your daily life, it's time to seek help. Anxiety disorders rarely disappear and may grow worse without appropriate treatment.

Phobia - Fear

Are you afraid of dogs (cynophobia), doctors (iatrophobia) or enclosed spaces (claustrophobia)?

Many things and situations can cause anxiety, nervousness or fright. For most people, the feelings are manageable and pass relatively quickly. But if an irrational fear (a phobia) interferes with your daily life, it's time to seek help. Anxiety disorders rarely disappear and may grow worse without appropriate treatment. Unchecked, phobias can lead to social isolation, depression or substance abuse.

Effective treatments are available that may help you to keep your fear in check. The May issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter covers treatment options:

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* Cognitive behavior therapy: First-line treatment for many phobias is cognitive behavior therapy. You and your therapist work together to help you identify and correct thinking patterns that lead to irrational fears.

* Behavior therapy: Working with a therapist, you practice gradually confronting the feared object or situation over time. The goal is to gradually become more skilled at coping with these situations.

* Medications: For many people, drugs aren't as effective as cognitive behavior therapy. They may be used to help reduce anxiety or the signs and symptoms of anxiety. Medications include antidepressants, antianxiety medications and beta blockers. These medications work to manage all types of anxiety.

If you have a specific phobia and want to avoid side effects from medications, it's best to target the specific phobias with therapy aimed at that fear.

Released by Mayo Clinic

This page is updated on March 25, 2013.

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