If your loved one's fear of the unknown becomes so severe and intense that it threatens to destroy their life, you may wonder if there's something deeper going on with them. Fear is something most people experience at some point in their lives, such as the fear after getting into an auto accident or visiting the doctor's office. The individuals generally learn to deal with their fears by conquering the things that cause them. But people who can't overcome their fears develop phobias. Phobias can change the way your loved one thinks, lives and works. Here's more information about phobias, how they affect people and what you can do to help your loved one get well.
Are Phobias and Fears the Same Things?
Although they cause similar symptoms, such as anxiety and stress, fears and phobias aren't the same things. Fears usually occur when your body experiences something that makes it go into the fight-or-flight mode. Your pulse, heart rate and breathing temporarily increase as you become more alert and aware of your surroundings and the things threatening you. Once the threats go away, your body and its reactions calm down or return to normal. People who have phobias stay in the fight-or-flight mode all the time.
People with phobias often take extreme measures to avoid their intense fears, even if it means living a life that's less than ideal for them. For instance, if your loved one fears that something bad or unknown will happen to them someday, they may take the safest route to work, place multiple locks on their home's doors and windows, or even give up leaving home altogether to stay safe. The fear of the unknown takes over your loved one's life until they no longer seem like the person you love and know.
You may question your friend or family member about their fears to find out why they feel as they do. They may come up with explanations that seem too illogical or irrational to make sense. In many cases, your loved one may acknowledge that they're overreacting but can't stop themselves from doing so.
You can help your loved one overcome their intense fear of the unknown through counseling.
What Can You Do to Help Your Loved One?
Helping your family member or friend may not be an easy task, especially if the person doesn't want to face their fears. The person may feel as though nothing can help them. However, there are several treatments available for your loved one, including counseling.
Counseling is considered an effective way to treat phobias because it allows individuals to talk candidly about their fears. It encourages your friend or family member to open up about how they feel and why, especially if they feel alone in their plight. Your loved one may not feel comfortable talking to you because they don't want to disappoint you or anyone else close to them.
Counseling teaches your loved one how to handle their intense fears in a more productive way. For example, instead of wondering what may or may not happen in the future, your loved one may learn to live each day at a time. This step may involve developing a daily activity plan that includes visiting a place of interest, favorite eatery or shopping.
The individual may also take small steps in how they handle their phobias at home. For instance, instead of using five locks on each door, the person may choose to use three on each entrance. As your loved one's phobia comes under control, they may feel comfortable using just one or two door locks.
For more information about phobias, contact a counselor or specialist today.