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Video transcript

- [Voiceover] Phobia is this extreme and unreasonable or irrational fear of something. That something can be anything from an animal to an inanimate object, to situations or activities. Having a phobia isn't just your everyday worries, stress, or fears though. It's not just being scared of a dark alley or being worried about flying on a plane. People with specific phobias work super hard to avoid whatever object they're afraid of even is they know there's actually no real danger or threat. And they might feel powerless to stop this fear and feel extreme anxiety even thinking about the object. Because of this, phobias can seriously disrupt daily routines, limit your work efficiency, reduce your self-esteem, and strain relationships because someone might do whatever they can to avoid feeling the anxious and sometimes terrifying feelings of a phobia. As an example, many people might feel little uneasier or annoyed camping at night when tons of moths start to swarm around your lanterns. But, knowing this will probably happen likely won't affect your decision to go camping, right? Someone with mottephobia or fear of moths might actually avoid the camping trip altogether because they know that there's this chance of seeing a moth. This avoidance might interfere with your social life and your relationship with your friends. Obviously, a fear of moths isn't the only phobia, though. It's not even in the top 10. Anyway, some of the more common phobias are things like fear of blood, or hemophobia, as well as fears of medical procedures, especially things like injections and needles. There can also be fears of animals, though, especially snakes or ophidiophobia, dogs or cynophobia, and spiders or arachnophobia. An example situation could be like claustrophobia, which is a fear of constricted or enclosed, or tight spaces. Someone with claustrophobia might have this intense fear of getting on an elevator because it's so compact. As somewhat of an opposite example, agoraphobia is a fear of going out into an open or crowded space which can be anything from malls to markets, to theaters. Oftentimes they're fearful of not being able to escape. Someone might also have a fear of heights or falling which is acrophobia, or a fear of flying, aerophobia. And finally, you could be afraid of some natural phenomenon, too, like lightning, which is called astraphobia. Now being exposed to the feared object or even thinking about being exposed to the feared object might cause severe symptoms of anxiety that are much stronger than the real threat. People with phobias often catastrophize, or immediately jump to the worst case scenario and also overestimate the chances of that actually happening. This might lead to physical symptoms like sweating, muscle control issues, or fast heart rates. Even though certain things like spiders can cause anxiety with a lot of people, it's super important to emphasize the difference between an everyday anxiety about something and a specific phobia. As an example, an everyday anxiety might be feeling queezy when you enter the spider exhibit at the zoo. Someone with arachnophobia or fear of spiders might avoid going to the zoo altogether to avoid seeing any spiders. Another everyday anxiety might be feeling dizzy when climbing a ladder. Someone with a fear of heights might not go to their best friend's wedding just because it's on the 30th floor of a hotel. Finally, an everyday anxiety might be being scared on a plane during severe turbulence where someone with aerophobia might avoid getting on a plane altogether, even if it was to go accept a promotion to their job. If someone does actually have a phobia and it's not just everyday fear, what causes it? Where does this come from? Well, the answer to that is not really known. One thing that is known is you're more likely to have a phobia if you have a family member with a phobia. Another way someone might develop a phobia, though, is from specific bad experiences. For example, someone that suffered a severe bite by a rabid dog might develop cynophobia or fear of dogs. Or even seeing someone else being very afraid of something could trigger a specific phobia. Those that have a phobia will likely be diagnosed by a healthcare professional that asks specific questions about your symptoms as well having your physical exam taken and asking about particular medications which can all help rule out other medical conditions that might be producing the anxiety. Once the phobia is diagnosed, though, treatment can be administered. Here it's important to tailor the treatment to the specific patients since patients respond differently to therapy, especially if other conditions are involved like depression or drug abuse. Cognitive behavior therapy is specific kind of psychotherapy is particularly effective for specific phobias. First, therapists will likely try to help the patient identify a mistake in beliefs and realize they're probably overestimating their fear and talk about the realistic risks. For example, being bitten by a rabid dog is actually a pretty rare occurrence. Secondly, they'll expose the person to the feared situation. Using the same example, the therapist might have the patient get closer to a dog which helps them learn to take acceptable risks that are relatively safe. Although the treatment regimen varies with each patient and the time required for treatment also varies, the vast majority of people with specific phobias can be helped with professional care.