More Details on Phobias and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Symptoms of Phobias
Many of the physical symptoms that accompany panic attacks -- such as sweating, racing heart, and trembling -- also occur with phobias.
Formal Diagnosis for Phobias
For a person to be diagnosed with a phobia, he or she must:
- Experience extreme anxiety with exposure to the object or situation
- Recognize that his or her fear is excessive or unreasonable
- Find that normal routines, social activities, or relationships are significantly impaired as a result of these fears.
Treatment for Phobias
Cognitive behavioral therapy has the best track record for helping people overcome most phobic disorders. The goals of this therapy are to desensitize a person to feared situations or to teach a person how to recognize, relax, and cope with anxious thoughts and feelings. Medications, such as anti-anxiety agents or antidepressants, can also help relieve symptoms. Sometimes, therapy and medication are combined to treat phobias.
Researchers now know that anyone, even children, can develop PTSD if they have experienced, witnessed, or participated in a traumatic event -- especially if the event was life-threatening. PTSD can result from terrifying experiences such as rape, kidnapping, natural disasters, war, or serious accidents such as airplane crashes. The psychological damage such incidents cause can interfere with a person's ability to hold a job or to develop intimate relationships with others.
Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
The symptoms of PTSD can range from constantly reliving the event to a general emotional numbing. Common symptoms include:
- Persistent anxiety
- Exaggerated startle reactions
- Difficulty concentrating
People with PTSD typically avoid situations that remind them of the traumatic event because they provoke intense distress or even panic attacks.