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  • Dr. Sanjana Saraf

Fear and Phobia

Fear Fear is a natural inborn response of all living beings. Its common response is to flee, hide or to attack the object of fear. Fear has a survival value: we know which situations or object causes harm, thus we learn to anticipate and avoid it. When fear becomes frequent, intense and unreasonable it comes to be classified as phobia. Phobia Phobic anxiety disorder has similar symptoms to generalised anxiety disorder, but these symptoms occur only in particular circumstances, with the person being symptom-free in other situations. Two important characteristics of this anxiety disorder are that the person avoids these anxiety-provoking situations and experiences anxiety at the mere prospect of encountering such situations. Specific Phobia: Some examples of anxiety-provoking situations may be situations, like enclosed spaces; objects like dogs, lizards; natural environment aspects like the sea; fear of choking; blood, injection, injury and etc. Other phobias are social phobia wherein the person may feel scrutinised and judged by others and hence attempts to avoid such a situation. This may be situation-specific like parties and meetings or generalised (range of social situations). People with agoraphobia experience anxiety when they are away from home, in crowds or from where escape is perceived to be difficult. They try hard to avoid these situations, feel anxious and experience various anxiety symptoms even at the thought of encountering these situations. There are two significant symptoms found in this phobia, i.e., panic attacks &/or anxiety about fainting or panic attacks or loss of control. As the severity increases the person begins to avoid more and more situations and may eventually become housebound. Importantly these symptoms may reduce in the company of another person or a pet as a person feels more secure. It does not mean the disappearance of the condition and should not be used as a means of treatment.

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