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Submitted By Napoleon
Words 1362
Pages 6
Assignment 3
Silvia Thomas
Instructor: Cristina Russu Ph. D
Psychology 105 – Intro to Psychology
December 4, 2011

This paper will discuss the mental disorder of phobias, and the available treatment options. A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder. It is a strong, irrational fear of something that poses little or no actual danger. There are many specific phobias. Acrophobia is a fear of heights. You may be able to ski the world's tallest mountains but be unable to go above the 5th floor of an office building. Agoraphobia is a fear of public places, and claustrophobia is a fear of closed-in places. If you become anxious and extremely self-conscious in everyday social situations, you could have a social phobia. Other common phobias involve tunnels, highway driving, water, flying, animals and blood. People with phobias try to avoid what they are afraid of. If they cannot, they may experience panic and fear, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, trembling, and a strong desire to get away. Treatment helps most people with phobias. Treatment options include medicines, therapy or both. A phobia is defined as the unrelenting fear of a situation, activity, or thing that causes one to want to avoid it. The three types of phobias are social phobia (fear of public speaking, meeting new people, or other social situations), agoraphobia (fear of being outside), and specific phobias (fear of particular items or situations). Phobias are largely underreported, probably because many phobia sufferers find ways to avoid the situations of which they are phobic. Women tend to be twice as likely to suffer from a phobia compared to men. Agoraphobia often coexists with panic disorder. If left untreated, a phobia may worsen to the point in which the person's life is seriously affected, both by the phobia itself and/or by attempts to avoid or conceal it. While there is no one specific known cause for phobias, it is thought that phobias run in families, are influenced by culture and how one is parented, and can be triggered by life events. Many providers of health care may help diagnose phobias, including licensed mental-health therapists, family physicians, or other primary-care medical providers, specialists whom you see for a medical condition, psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers. If one of these professionals suspects that you may be suffering from a phobia, you will likely be asked a number of questions to understand all the symptoms you may be experiencing and you may need to submit to a medical interview and physical examination. As anxiety disorders in general may be associated with a number of medical conditions or can be a side effect of various medications, routine laboratory tests are often performed during the initial evaluation to rule out other possible causes of the symptoms. Helping those who suffer from phobias is thought to be most effective when psychotherapy and medications that are specific to the treatment of phobia are both used. One form of psychotherapy involves the supportive and gradual exposure of the individual with phobias to circumstances that are increasingly close to the one they are phobic about (desensitization). These situations can either consist of actual or computer-generated anxiety-provoking stimuli. (CBT) has been found to significantly decrease phobic symptoms by helping the phobia sufferer change his or her way of thinking. CBT uses three techniques to accomplish this goal: Didactic component: This phase involves educating the individual about phobias and treatment and helps to set up positive expectations for therapy and promote the cooperation of the person with a phobia. Cognitive component: It helps to identify the thoughts and assumptions that influence the person's behavior, particularly those that may predispose him or her to being phobic. Behavioral component: This employs behavior-modifying techniques to teach the individual with a phobia more effective strategies for dealing with problems. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medications are often used to treat phobias, particularly when desensitization and CBT are inadequately effective. These medications affect levels of serotonin in the brain. Examples of these medications include fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil), fluvoxamine (Luvox), citalopram (Celexa), and escitalopram (Lexapro). Phobias are also sometimes treated using beta-blocker medications, which decrease the physical symptoms associated with panic by blocking the effects that adrenaline has on the body. Phobia sufferers can work toward overcoming their fears include talking about their fears, refraining from avoiding situations they find stressful, imagining themselves facing their fears (visualization), and making positive self-statements like, "I will be OK. When self-help approaches are combined with brief psychotherapy, people with phobias may achieve significant improvement in symptoms. How well phobias respond to various treatments over the course of years as well as how age-related changes in thinking ability (cognition) may interact with anxiety are areas being focused on for future research studies. The use of herbal and other dietary supplements in the treatment of phobias is being explored as well. In most states, psychologists are not permitted to prescribe medications, although this is slowly changing. However, no mental health practitioner with less than a doctoral degree is permitted to prescribe medication in any state. Those who choose to use medications to treat their phobias must visit a psychiatrist or other doctor for medication management, even if they also see a therapist. Many people have begun to turn to alternative treatments for a variety of ailments, including phobias and other anxiety disorders. These treatments are not established in the medical community, and caution is highly recommended. Popular alternative treatments can be divided into several categories. Hypnotherapy is based in the belief that phobias reside in the subconscious mind. By putting the client into a hypnotic state, the therapist can access the subconscious directly, without the interference of the conscious mind. Homeopathy is a system of holistic medicine that was widely practiced in the 18th and 19th centuries and still has dedicated followers today. Homeopathic medicine uses minute quantities of toxic substances to treat diseases. The substances used are extremely toxic and can cause illness or death. Homeopathic medicine is not widely accepted in the medical community today. Herbal remedies are prepared from naturally occurring herbs. These remedies are increasingly popular, and some mental health professionals are beginning to acknowledge their usefulness. However, large-scale controlled studies have not yet been performed, so the long term safety and efficacy cannot be guaranteed. Popular herbal remedies for phobias and other anxiety disorders include catnip, ginseng, chamomile and valerian root. Dosages can vary widely between individual plants. The guidance of both a medical doctor and an herbalist is highly recommended. There is an age-old debate in the mental health community regarding the usefulness of talk therapy as opposed to medication therapy. According to the medical model, mental disorders are the result of physiological causes and should be treated by medication, surgery or other medical processes. Proponents of talk therapy believe that mental disorders are largely based on reactions to one’s environment. Therefore, they can be treated through discussion, resolution of conflict, behavioral changes and changes in thinking. Today, most members of the mental health community feel that the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Some conditions may be caused by physiological changes, while others are the result of conflict and unhealthy reactions. Most issues are based on a combination of factors. Therefore, many therapists choose to use both medical and talk therapy solutions depending on the situation.

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