Whilst phobias are focussed on a specific situation or object, generalized anxiety is much more broad. Many people with generalized anxiety find that day-to-day situations cause them to worry excessively.
A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder that causes a person to feel extreme fear around something. This fear can lead them to completely rearrange their lives in order to avoid the thing that causes them such fear. Some examples of phobias would be:
*A living creature.
Whilst we know the fear is an irrational one, it causes extreme emotional distress for the person experiencing the phobia.
The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook, (Fifth Edition by Edmund J. Bourne, PhD) outlines some helpful tips for those experiencing phobias. Please note it is important to also seek the help of a trained mental health professional.
“The most effective way to overcome a phobia is simply to face it. Continuing to avoid a situation that frightens you is, more than anything else, what keeps the phobia alive.”
This might sound like an impossible task, especially if you have been avoiding something for a number of years. The author of the Anxiety and Phobia workbook suggests, “breaking it down into sufficiently small steps. Instead of entering a situation all at once, you can do it very gradually in small or even minute increments.”
When the learned behaviour is to associate anxiety with a particular situation, for example, you were involved in a car accident on a particular intersection, it is likely that you acquired “a strong association between being in that particular situation and being anxious. Therefore, being near or thinking about it automatically can trigger your anxiety.”
Edmund. J Bourne, lays out the following steps for those who are genuinely committed to their recovery:
1. You must be willing to take the risk to start facing situations you may have been avoiding for many years
2. You need to be able to tolerate the initial discomfort that entering phobic situations – even in small increments
3. You must persist in practicing exposure on a consistent basis, despite probable setbacks, over a long period of time to allow for complete recovery (generally 6 months to 2 years).
As always this is not designed to replace seeking the support of a trained mental health professional. When doing your research and looking for a therapist, make sure to ask what training/experience the therapist has in working with phobias and anxiety disorders.