A GP can help you with your phobia. Although treatment isn’t always necessary, they can suggest which options are available to you, refer you to a specialist if needed and answer any questions you may have. Let’s take a look at what treatment options may be available to help treat your phobia
How are phobias treated?
As well as things you can do to try to help yourself, there are two other types of treatment recommended for phobias: talking therapies and medication.
Things you can try yourself
If your phobia is mild, there are some useful self-help resources out there. There are books that you can read which offer tips, as well as past learnings on overcoming a phobia.
Local support groups may also be available in your area, where you can talk to other people who have phobias, to learn from their experiences.
Or you could sign up to an online programme designed to help you cure your phobia.
There are also other ways, such as meditation or mindfulness, that can help calm you down, which may also help with the anxiety your phobia causes.
If you need professional help, you may be recommended talking therapies or medication.
Talking therapy and psychotherapy
You may be referred for a talking therapy, which can include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which has been shown to be among the most effective ways of controlling a phobia.
A CBT technique can be used to manage the problems you encounter when faced with the source of your phobia. It helps you to change the way you think about the situation or object that triggers your phobic symptoms.
The therapy may involve desensitisation, which gradually exposures you to whatever it is you fear. This is done in a safe environment and a professional therapist will make sure it is done at a pace that will help you deal comfortably with the problem.
Alternatively, a treatment plan may require psychotherapy, which allows you to look deeper into your phobia to try and discover what has caused it, as well as ways to overcome it.
Hypnotherapy may also sometimes used to treat phobia symptoms, although this is not usually available on the NHS.
A doctor can recommend which is the right solution for you.
In some cases, you may be prescribed medication to treat the symptoms of a phobia, particularly anxiety, rather than the phobia itself. A doctor will be able to assess whether this is the right treatment for you during the consultation, or may refer you to a specialist to explore the issue further.
A combination of therapy and medication may able be prescribed. Medications most commonly used to help with a phobia include:
BenzodiazepinesThese minor tranquillisers are sometimes used as a short-term measure to treat severe anxiety. These drugs need to be used with caution as they can be addictive and we don’t currently prescribe them through Push Doctor. Further treatment may involve talking therapies, once your anxiety is under control.
AntidepressantsAntidepressant drugs, a type called SSRIs, are a common medication used also to treat a social phobia or anxiety that results from a phobia. They can have a number of side effects, which a doctor will take you through before prescribing you anything. You must always stick to the dose you are prescribed, and only stop taking them after speaking to a doctor.
Beta-blockersBeta-blockers can be used to treat the symptoms of anxiety. They reduce your heart rate and blood pressure to help you stay calm. They’re often used if they can help you in certain situations, such as on a plane if you’re afraid of flying.
What happens if phobias are left untreated?
If you have a severe phobia, you should seek treatment from a doctor. Treating it will help you to lead a normal life, without having to limit your activities to avoid your phobia triggers, or having to deal with the sometimes crippling symptoms.
The anxiety and stress involved in living with a phobia can take a mental and physical toll on you and may lead to further complications or medical issues, such as depression.
Living with a phobia can also impact on your personal relationships, work and daily life. Getting treatment for a phobia as soon as possible will minimise the impact it has on you and your loved ones.
The treatment of a phobia may take some time, but there is a lot of help available to make sure you can deal with it effectively.