What Are Irrational Fears? Examples, Signs, Causes, And More!

Last Update on March 29, 2024 : Published on March 29, 2024

We all have certain fears – some of them stem from obvious reasons, while others don’t make sense. When I tell people I’m scared of dogs, many of them scoff and tell me that there is no such thing as a fear of dogs. I’ll admit, in my much younger years, I would believe them and would try to invalidate my own fear, but as I grew up, I realized that even though the fear was irrational, it was still that – a phobia.

If you’re here reading this, then you also have certain fears and phobias that sound silly to others, but invoke a real and debilitating fear inside you. Irrational fears can do that. These fears can significantly impact your life, but what exactly are they? Can we overcome them?

Keep reading to know irrational fears, what causes them, and how you can cope with and treat them.

What Are Irrational Fears?

Fear is a natural human emotion that serves a purpose. It keeps us safe from danger. However, when your fear becomes excessive, persistent, and interferes with your day-to-day life, that’s when we can classify it as a phobia.

Phobias can be described as an irrational fear that causes an intense fear of a specific object, event, or activity. Unlike fear and anxiety, phobias can trigger your flight-or-fight response, causing emotional and physical distress.

Some common examples of irrational fear can include;

Signs & Symptoms of Irrational Fears

The signs and symptoms of irrational fears can include feeling intense anxiety when confronted with the fear trigger. These symptoms can manifest as;

  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Trembling and shaking
  • Feeling a sense of impending doom
  • Chest pains
  • Hot or cold flashes
  • Feelings of shame
  • Engaging in avoidance behavior
  • Feeling overwhelmed

What Causes Irrational Fears?

The exact causes of irrational fears are unknown, but various factors can contribute to the development of intense fear. Some psychologists believe that genes play a role in developing irrational fear or phobias. More than genes, it’s the experience of traumatic events that can also trigger irrational fears. For example, a dog bite in the past can trigger cynophobia.

Psychologists also believe that observing others’ fearful reactions to certain stimuli might cause the development of irrational fears.

How Do Irrational Fears Impact Well-Being?

While phobias and irrational fears might seem quirky and unique to many, they can have a significant impact on a person’s life. If you live with irrational fears, then you might even go to great lengths to avoid your triggers, which can restrict your routine and limit your life experiences.

Irrational fears also create a cycle of avoidance and anxiety. Giving in to your fears can make it hard for you to maintain your real life, including your career, relationships, and social life. Over time, irrational fears can overwhelm you to a point where you neglect to care for yourself, focus on your outside life, and even hesitate to seek professional help.

How to Overcome Irrational Fears?

Most irrational fears stem from your past, but even then, there are steps you can take to address the negatives and cope with your fears to live a healthy life. Here are some ways to help you overcome irrational fears;

1. Be Aware of Your Fears

The first thing you can do to overcome irrational fears is to be aware that they exist and are valid. Psychoeducation can be a good place to start. Moreover, knowing what triggers your irrational fears and how you can address the anxiety that comes with them can help you reduce their impact.

2. Practice Relaxation Exercises

You can also practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, 5-4-3-2-1 grounding exercises, or progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) to cope with anxiety symptoms that occur when you’re faced with your fear.

3. Try Meditation or Guided Imagery

Another thing you can do to overcome irrational fears is to practice meditation or guided imagery. Meditation can help you relax and be in the present moment, and guided imagery can help you reach out to the safe space in your mind that brings forth feelings of relaxation and calm.

4. Seek Social Support

You can also reach out to support groups for phobias and irrational fears or reach out to your family or friends for support. Reaching out to people who understand your point of view can help you understand and manage your fears and all that comes with them.

5. Seek Exposure Therapy

If we talk about professional intervention, then exposure therapy can be a safe bet. Exposure therapy is when you’re gradually exposed to your fear in a safe and controlled environment. This is done under the supervision of a therapist and this approach can help desensitize you to your fear, gradually.

6. Reach Out For CBT

Another professional approach to treating irrational fears can be cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT. CBT can help you identify negative thought patterns associated with the fear and replace them with positive and more realistic ones.

7. Try EMDR Techniques

EMDR or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is another professional approach that helps you process traumatic memories, leading to a healthier way of coping.

8. Prescribed Medications

In some severe cases of irrational fears, a psychiatrist might be able to prescribe certain medications such as antidepressants and antianxiety medications to manage the symptoms of anxiety that come with irrational fears. It is strongly recommended that you not take any medication that is not prescribed by a professional. Certain medications can have side effects that can make your condition worse.

Wrap Up…

Irrational fears can be debilitating, no doubt about them, but hope’s not lost. With the right understanding, self-help strategies, and professional interventions, you can overcome irrational fears and live a healthier life. Fear is a natural response to any external stimuli, but it doesn’t have to control your life.

Take charge of your fears – irrational or not – and see how a world of possibilities opens up for you!

Let us know what you think about this article about irrational fears and how to overcome them in the comments below. We love hearing from you!

Take Care!

About The Author

Swarnakshi Sharma
Swarnakshi Sharma

Swarnakshi is a content writer at Calm sage, who believes in a healthier lifestyle for mind and body. A fighter and survivor of depression, she strives to reach and help spread awareness on ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues. A spiritual person at heart, she believes in destiny and the power of Self. She is an avid reader and writer and likes to spend her free time baking and learning about world cultures.

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