Tina rushed into my cabin, her face contorted with fear. “Doc….I just saw a lizard in the corridor…and I thought I would faint!” she squealed. “You have no idea how much they frighten me. I often have nightmares wherein I am followed by lizards and I get up sweating and palpitating. My friends think I am nuts but it is now becoming too much!”
Tina has a condition called phobia wherein there is a marked and persistent fear that is excessive and unreasonable, cued by the presence or anticipation or actual presence of a specific object or situation like flying, heights, animals, etc.
The person recognizes that this fear is irrational or excessive.
Exposure to the phobic stimulus predisposes to a panic state. The avoidance or endurance of the situation leads to a significant interference with the persons normal routine, occupation or social activities.
Note: The rest of the society in which the person resides does not have a similar fear to the same stimulus…this is important.
What does one do?
A combination of relaxation therapies associated with gradual increase in the exposure to the phobic stimulus helps to reduce the person’s sensitivity to the object or situation. Sometimes, medication to reduce the anxiety associated with the situation may be necessary for a while.