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.
 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

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
  • Nightmares
  • Insomnia.
 
People with PTSD typically avoid situations that remind them of the traumatic event because they provoke intense distress or even panic attacks.
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