Treating Phobias and Accompanying Conditions

Treatment Options

Depending on the type of phobia, there are two effective forms of treatment available: certain medications and a specific form of short-term psychotherapy called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
 
Medications include antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), as well as drugs known as high-potency benzodiazepines.
 
Some people with a condition called performance phobia have been helped by beta-blockers, which are more commonly used to control high blood pressure.
 
Cognitive behavioral therapy is also useful in treating this problem. The central component of this treatment is exposure therapy, which involves helping patients gradually become more comfortable with situations that frighten them. The exposure process often involves three stages. The first involves introducing people to the feared situation. The second increases the risk for disapproval in that situation so that people are able to build confidence that they can handle rejection or criticism. The third stage involves teaching people techniques to cope with disapproval. In this stage, people imagine their worst fear and are encouraged to develop constructive responses to their fear and perceived disapproval.
 
Cognitive behavioral therapy for this condition also includes anxiety management training -- for example, teaching people techniques such as deep breathing to control their levels of anxiety. Another important aspect of treatment is called cognitive restructuring, which helps individuals identify their misjudgments and develop more realistic expectations of the likelihood of danger in social situations.
 

Other Conditions

A phobia can cause lowered self-esteem and depression. In an attempt to reduce their anxiety and alleviate depression, some people with a phobia may use alcohol or other drugs, which can lead to addiction.
 
Also, some people with this condition may have other anxiety disorders, such as panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
 
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