Fear, Phobia, and Anxiety FAQ

Fear, Phobia, and Anxiety Defined

1. What is fear?

Fear is a normal human emotion. Fear is a “built-in” survival mechanism that protects us from the immediate threat of danger or when we are confronted with something new. It signals us to avoid what is making us fearful in order to protect us in some way.

2. What is anxiety?

Anxiety is an overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physiological signs such as, but not limited to, sweating, tension, “butterflies” in the stomach, and increased pulse. It occurs when there is no immediate threat to a person’s safety or well-being, but the threat feels real.

3. What’s the difference between fear and anxiety?

Fear typically “kicks in” when there is immediate and actual danger while anxiety tends to happen when there is nothing happening in the moment of experiencing the emotion. The feeling is coming from anticipating something that could happen versus something happening right now. Fear tends to subside once the danger has passed. With anxiety, the feeling is coming from anticipation of future danger or something negative that could happen. A healthy level of fear can keep you safe and a healthy level of anxiety can keep you on your toes and motivated.

4. When does fear and anxiety exceed the expected level of response?

Sometimes anxiety and fear can become too intense to the point where it starts to “interfere” with your daily life or begin to influence your actions. This is when it exceeds the expected level of response. For example, if you refuse to go on an interview because your heart races every time you think about agreeing to attend. Or if you tremble when you think about taking a plane for your vacation…

5. What is a phobia?

A phobia is an intense, unreasonable fear of something or a situation that is far out of proportion to the actual danger or harm that is possible. The fear and distress lead the person to avoid the object or situation they fear. When anxieties and fears persist, problems can arise. As much as you may hope you will “just get over it” or “will yourself” out of the feeling, sometimes the opposite occurs, and the cause of the anxiety looms larger and becomes more prevalent. The anxiety becomes a phobia, or a fear that’s extreme, severe, and persistent. A phobia can be very difficult to tolerate, even debilitating, especially if the anxiety-producing stimulus (whatever is causing the anxiety) is hard to avoid such as thunderstorms, elevators, crowds, open areas, public speaking, or flying on an airplane, to name a few.

6. What is a specific phobia?

A specific phobia is just that…An extremely strong fear of something specific, such as heights, elevators, germs, flying, the dentist, death, etc. The fear and anxiety felt is so intense that the person will change plans, behavior, and lifestyle to cope with the specific phobia.

7. What causes a phobia?

Some people are more prone than others to develop a phobia due to “wiring” as well as environment, including life experiences.

Some people may be more likely to develop phobias than others. Anxiety problems often run in families, and a phobia is one type of anxiety problem. Some people are born with a natural tendency to be more cautious and inhibited; others have an inborn tendency to be more bold and uninhibited. Having a cautious style may make it more likely for someone to develop phobias or anxiety.

When someone develops a phobia, they quickly learn that they feel anxious when they are near the object or situation they fear – and that they feel relief when they avoid it. Learning that avoidance can reduce their anxiety (at least for the moment) and increases the likelihood that they will avoid the feared situation or object next time. The difficulty is that these avoidance behaviors have to keep increasing and happening even sooner to provide the same relief. Pretty soon, a person finds himself spending time worrying about the possibility of encountering the feared situation and avoiding anything that might bring him into contact with it. With a phobia, the pattern of anxiety, avoidance, and worry about the possibility of contact tends to grow bigger and interferes more with life over time.

8. How do I recognize the signs of when my fear and/or anxiety is getting out of control?

Ask yourself:
• Does the fear seem unreasonable in relation to the reality of the situation.
• What are the symptoms of the fear?
• Do they affect your daily life? (taking the stairs to the 6th floor versus the elevator)
Some, but not limited to, characteristics of fear and anxiety in its extreme:
• nervous movements, such as temporary twitches
• problems getting to sleep and/or staying asleep longer than usual
• sweaty hands
• accelerated heart rate and breathing
• nausea
• headaches

9. How can Hypnotherapy help?

Hypnotherapy is a powerful tool when overcoming fears, phobias, and anxiety.
Through hypnotherapeutic intervention you can:
• Gain insight as to the sensitizing event(s) which shaped your experiences and brought you to this point
• Understand the root cause or causes of fear/anxiety/phobia
• Gain insight and learn to manage triggers
• Learn important tools and techniques to gain control over your fear/anxiety/phobia
• Bring down and possibly extinguish the emotional charge so your issue looses its power over you

10. Can you just hypnotize me not be scared or anxious?

The process of hypnotizing some one and then introducing new ways of thinking and acting is known as suggestion therapy. This works on occasion but is only a “quick fix”. When you do not gain insight as to how the problem started what to do with this information, you are only administering a band-aid versus pulling the fear or anxiety out by the roots. If you don’t pull a weed out by the roots, eventually, know matter how many times you cut it down again, it will grow back…and the same applies when you enter therapy to solve a problem.

11. What is your approach to therapy?

I utilize a client-centered multi-model approach. I am goal-oriented and we will discuss your expectations in coming to therapy and a realistic outcome. Typically we will meet for weekly sessions of 90 minutes in length, for approximately 6 to 12 sessions, depending on the severity of the problem. Children and adolescents typically meet for 50 minute sessions on a weekly basis.