"You're such a scaredy cat," they say. But what they don't know is that when you go to the beach, your heart races uncontrollably, your palms become sweaty, you become nauseous and all you want to do is get the heck out of there.
What they also don't know is that when you were 3 years old you almost drowned. After that you could no longer go to the beach, go on a cruise or be around large bodies of water. But no one has ever asked you why you're so scared, they just assume that you are being irrational.
Well, you my dear, might have a phobia. To the outside world the person with the phobia makes no sense. After all, all your friends go surfing and swimming at the beach, so they see no harm in large bodies of water. On the contrary, the beach is their happy place. But they don't understand that their happy place causes you terror. You have to summon up the courage to even drive past a beach.
People can have a phobic reaction to just about anything- thunder, lightning, elevators, white t-shirts, the park, the dentist, birds, snakes, strawberries and even good ol' pizza. It also does not matter where you're from, your gender, race or socioeconomic background. Phobias are equal opportunity bandits. They steal your joy, comfort and sometimes, it feels like they steal your sanity.
Simply put, a phobia is an unreasonable fear (which obviously seems very reasonable to you) which causes a person extreme fear and anxiety. You become so petrified that you instantly feel the need to run, hide or even cry. Even if you know that the object you fear is 'harmless,' it still does not reduce the amount of fear you feel around it. Sometimes a phobia will affect your social life or career. When you know your company is going on their annual beach trip, you call in sick and miss the opportunity to network with other professionals. Or you miss out on having fun with friends who want to lay around in the summer time.
So how are phobias treated? Well there are many different ways, but one of the most common is through a treatment called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT. Your counselor or therapist will ask you a list of questions, to get to know your background and even your health history. He or she will sometimes also refer you to your primary care physician so that he or she can determine if your phobia is caused by a physical health condition or by some medications you're taking.
Do you have any phobias? Are you ready to stop feeling afraid? Reach out to a therapist or counselor today. It's important to ask them if they have experience treating phobias as well as how they actually go about the treatment. Help is out there. You don't have to suffer alone.