Fear has a way of overwhelming a person; pushing a person to the limits of their endurance; causing a person to disassociate. It creates victims. It creates survivors.
An individual, about to become a single parent, may feel a deep sense of dread at the thought of sleepless nights and misunderstood cries that must be faced alone. The fear that this person experiences when the future is discussed is so real it turns dreams into nightmares. Some people, looking down from a dizzying height, may feel their body stiffen in fear; their mouths go dry. Ask them if they are okay and they stare at you, speechless, one hand over their mouth, the other hand around your arm. Then there are the many suffering through trauma born from having lived with the negative, the violent, the dangerous, day after day, night after night.
Exams, first loves, a new job, crossing the street, eating new food, giving a speech, are a few of the ordinary activities that millions perform daily that produce in some people a measure of fear. So when does Fear become a problem? When does a person seek the help of a health care worker? What in our behavior indicates that we are no longer exhibiting what we have learned is a normal healthy emotion? The answers to the question ‘why ‘ would fill a book (this is a little blog) and take the services of a qualified individual to classify beyond the word irrational.
One thing an expert will tell you is that almost everyone has an irrational fear. It is the exaggeration of the fear, (for example, the fear of spiders) into a severe emotional and physical reaction that signals there is a problem. Add to it, panic and anxiety, producing a variety of disruptions in the normal routines of life and the expert will pronounce ‘a phobia’. Remember that this is a treatable condition, albeit an unhealthy fear.
Note that fear exists to alert the body and mind that action is required; the present situation demands a protective response. When afflicted with ‘a phobia’ the perceived threat is non-existent; the situation is imagined to be more dangerous. If a person is subject to feelings of being constantly judged or refuses to eat in front of strangers because of expecting to be laughed at and humiliated an expert will declare that person has ‘a social phobia’. Other common social phobias include talking to strangers, being in a room with certain animals, trying on clothes when shopping. What you need to know to tell the difference between normal and abnormal are the symptoms to look for: I have listed 10 of the most common symptoms:
- Difficulty in breathing
- Racing or pounding heartbeat
- Chest pain or feeling of tightness in chest
- Trembling or shaking
- Hot and cold flashes
- Excessive sweating
- Need to escape
- Feeling of losing control or going to die
- Knowing you are exaggerating, but powerless.
As a general rule self-help strategies are often the answers experts give combined with a doctor’s prescribed medications. The more you help yourself, the more you will feel in control. If your friends and loved ones confirm your misgivings about your condition the secret is ‘to listen and act’. The life you save will be your own.