I am a 27 year old female and have a fear of hospitals and doctors.
Any time I go to the hospital I get sick. When I even just think of going to see a doctor, I break out in skin hives. When people talk about injuries, or even just giving blood, my pulse starts to race and my skin begins to get clammy. I have tried conquering my fears by reading medical books, looking at pictures and watching surgery shows on TV. I even tried to give blood a few times but I passed out each time. I would one day like to have children but just the thought of going to the doctor for checkups, let alone actually giving birth, makes me think I won’t be able to handle it.
We run a program for the treatment of Health Anxiety, which deals with these problems. It seems that you have the right idea: exposing yourself to the frightening situation, but you may be underestimating the time it takes to desensitize yourself. We usually have a patient sit in the hospital blood center for hours at a time over the course of many days. Hives are often a symptom of emotional excitement.
“Why does hiding my phobia from people make it worse for me?” Dr. Manuel Zane (the founder of our treatment center) was asked back in 1977. And here we are, in 2017, seeking the same answer.
Despite increased awareness and availability of treatment, phobias and other anxiety disorders may still carry an old stigma.
So many of us who are phobic are masters of deception. We don’t want to be judged because of our phobias, so we try to hide them by arranging our lives around them. We falsely believe that if we share our anxieties with others, they will judge—or worse—reject us. (more…)
It is helpful to break up your problems into smaller more manageable steps. One small step is usually all anyone can handle at one time.
Take responsibility for yourself and your own life. You are the only one that can give to yourself what you want and need.
Accept your feelings, thoughts and fears and deal with them to the best of your ability.
Do not fear making a mistake. This is the only opportunity we have to improve and learn. Make the mistakes of yesterday your lessons for today. (more…)
Accepting that you have a phobia and deciding to do something about it takes a remarkable amount of resolution.
In joining a support group, you are no longer alone. You have become part of a network of people who know exactly what you mean when you say, “I feel like I’m going crazy” or “I think I’m going to lose control.”
Group leaders hear those thoughts expressed week after week. Those dreaded, indescribable thoughts and feelings are not unique. Although specific phobias of a group will vary, the symptoms are always similar.
Members learn concrete procedures to enable them to deal with their phobias. They are taught to change negative thoughts and behavioral patterns into positive ones. Members are taught to face, rather than avoid, the phobic situation. This, of course, is not easy and requires a commitment on the part of everyone involved. It should be understood that we are with you 100 percent and we will give you all the support and encouragement you need while you are in the group. (more…)
This is Janet’s story. It is a poignant article to explain how someone feels when they are so anxious they feel they have to flee. Janet has since recovered through exposure and cognitive behavioral therapy and you can too.
Every muscle and sinew in her body strained to keep her from screaming and bolting off the Number 7 IRT subway car. The deafening and rasping clack-clack, clack-clack of metal upon metal clamped like a vice over her ears. The screeching and side-to-side lurching of the train brought up the sour tasting bile of motion-sickness.
Each stop prolonged the entrapment in the moving, tubular coffin. She hoped no one else could see her quivering hands or clenched jaw. Her skin prickled. She rubbed the red blotches forming on her wrists. Vision blurred as she sat crammed between commuters. Claustrophobia wrapped its unseen arms around her, pressing inward, forcing her to hyperventilate. She yanked at the neckline of her tee-shirt. (more…)
When working on my own, how do I set goals? I often encounter failure.
Maybe you are not realizing that even if you do not complete the goal you have done something. Many phobia sufferers are perfectionists. They feel that if they don’t complete the whole task perfectly it is a total failure. The only failure is in not trying at all. Each small step can be a success. For instance, if you are working on shopping in a store, first drive there and park. The next time get out of the car and look in the windows. Then enter the store but don’t try to purchase anything. The next time buy just a few items, and so on. Gradually enter the store until it becomes comfortable and routine. (more…)
Worry behavior is meant to relieve anxiety, but worry actually prevents emotional processing.
We might ask ourselves: To what degree is worry beneficial to me?
There are some common and telling statements people make about worry:
It would be helpful to remember that about 85% of the things we worry about don’t happen. Of the 15% of the bad things that do happen, people cope the majority of the time. (more…)
Portions of this article are reprinted from The Associated Press which discusses the problem of keraunophobia, an irrational, severe fear of thunderstorms.
Susan remembers thinking that she was going to die as she lay on her bed listening to the rain against the roof and the thunder rumble above her. A scientist from Connecticut, Susan also recalls hiding under a highway overpass for an hour, afraid the rain would never end.
For Susan and other sufferers of keraunophobia, thunderstorms cause the throat to catch, the heart to pound, palms to sweat and other physical symptoms. Changes are lightning won’t strike their homes, but it will fill their hearts with fear. (more…)
Is it common for phobic people to have thoughts of losing control?
Yes, this is very common with people who suffer with phobias. They fear they will “lose control” of themselves and act in an irrational manner (e.g. screaming, running away, embarrassing themselves)
The phobic person doesn’t usually carry out these thoughts.
It is OK to have these thoughts. It is what you do with them that matters. Try to remember the many times you have had these thoughts and haven’t lost control.. (more…)
by Martin K. Diner, MD
Stress is ordinarily experienced by a person as discomfort in the body, distress in the mind or emotional upset.
The body may show stress by having muscle tension, back pain, headache, stomach upset, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, chest pain, palpitations, skin rashes, dizziness, twitches, trembling, fatigue and other physical symptoms. Some people find that a physical condition or disease that they already have gets worse.
Mental distress may lead to intense worrying, expecting something terrible to happen,
losing confidence, not liking oneself, developing fears of people or places and moving away from people and social activities. (more…)