5 Common Effects Of Phobia And Irrational Fear On Your Mental Health
Phobia or irrational fear is a condition that can make you feel vulnerable despite what you fear. Everyone has a phobia or an irrational fear, for example, I have an irrational fear of dogs (which, I know, is weird) yet it stops me from being comfortable around pets.
When you’re exposed to your phobia, the experience can become overwhelming and leave you feeling terrified and vulnerable. And what’s more is that after each exposure to your phobia, the experience becomes so stressful that you actively try to avoid future situations. For example, if you’re claustrophobic, then you’re likely to actively avoid using elevators or traveling via an airplane.
Specific phobias such as claustrophobia can be triggered by a specific place, event, or situation and can leave you feeling anxious, so much so that it can affect your daily functioning. And that’s what we’re exploring in this article.
Let’s take a look at the common effects of phobia on mental health and emotional health.
Psychological And Emotional Effects Of Phobia
1. Severe Anxiety
One of the diagnosis criteria for phobia is anxiety and varying on the type of phobia, it can be life-limiting as well. For example, if you have a social phobia or agoraphobia, then it can limit your ability to run daily errands, hang out with friends, and even go to work.
Specific phobias and irrational fears can cause severe anxiety and affect your academics, career, and even the quality of your life.
2. Social Isolation
Another effect of phobia on mental and emotional health can be social isolation. Phobia can make you question your self-esteem and self-worth while making you ask yourself, “why am I different from others?” or “Why am I not normal?”. Having a phobia does not make one normal or abnormal.
However, it can still affect your relationships and cause you to become more socially withdrawn and isolated. In severe cases, a phobia can also cause one to experience depressive symptoms.
3. Public Embarrassment
We all feel embarrassed now and then but did you know that having a phobia can cause you to feel publicly embarrassed, even when it’s not in your control? Take me, for example, my friends have a pet dog and yet I feel anxious before I make a house visit.
One time, when I saw a dog in a public place, I had a near anxiety attack. Quite embarrassing, right? Similarly, social phobia or known as social anxiety disorder can make a person avoid social situations at all costs. It can especially be challenging to manage because of the fear of being humiliated. This kind of reaction can make one feel embarrassed and that can only worsen the anxiety caused by the phobia.
4. Feeling Out Of Control
One of the worst emotional consequences of a phobia or irrational fear is feeling out of control. You might know or even understand that a phobia is irrational but no matter how much you try to manage it, you always feel out of sorts and out of control.
This effect of phobia can make you overthink and at the same time, feel resentment towards yourself for failing to manage your phobia. Even though a phobia is something that you can’t control.
5. Feeling Helpless
Another emotional effect of phobia can be feeling helpless. Helplessness comes when you realize that your phobia affects not one but more aspects of your life including your quality of life, social health, career, academics, or more. You might feel that there is nothing you can do to overcome this phobia and you may also begin to feel that there is no treatment for your specific phobia.
Your Next Steps…
Phobia can be treated. When your phobia begins to affect your daily life and causes you to distress almost every waking moment, then it’s a sign that you should seek professional help.
If your phobia is making you feel the following way, it’s time you should seek treatment for your phobia:
- Having extreme feelings of anxiety, fear, and panic
- You start avoiding certain people, situations, and places
- You feel stressed because of your phobia
There are certain therapy approaches such as exposure therapy and psychodynamic therapy that can help treat or manage the phobia. Treating the phobia with the right treatment plan or the right intervention strategy can help reduce feelings of helplessness, embarrassment, and even anxiety.
While the effects of phobia on mental health can be great and quite distressing, with the right professional help, it can be greatly reduced, leading you to live a full, happy, and meaningful life. A therapist can also help you work on your experience of feeling out of control and help sort through the feelings that bring you down.
Other than professional help, you can also try self-help strategies such as:
- Practicing relaxation techniques
- Practicing stress management
- Learning to face your fears
- Practicing mindfulness
- Leaning grounding techniques such as the 5-4-3-2-1 technique to help with the symptoms of phobia, and
- Challenging and questioning your negative thoughts
Living with phobia and/or irrational fears can be debilitating and can make you feel vulnerable, always. The effects of phobia on your emotional and mental health can also prevent you from making progress and coping with your phobia. However, with the right therapy and self-help techniques, you can learn to cope with the symptoms, slowly yet effectively.
I hope this blog helped you understand the effect of phobia on mental and emotional health and how to cope with them. For more, you can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us on social media.
You can also share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!