As many as 15 percent of citizens around the world develop phobias, according to Lancet Psychiatry. However, there is evidence to suggest that overcoming it early in life can prevent it from becoming a more serious problem in the future. Still, those who have lived with their phobias for so long may have doubts as to whether they can be overcome at all. But as we become better versed in psychological treatments and pharmaceutics, the odds stack ever higher in our favor. Here are 3 scientific reasons why it is possible to overcome your phobias.
Human Minds Can Desensitizing Itself
Phobias retain their grip on the mind by overwhelming you with panic as soon as the thing you fear presents itself. While it is difficult for the psyche to stand up to this, it is good at getting used to things a little at a time. The same phenomenon occurs when exercising or learning a new skill. Getting over a phobia is just like learning another skill. There are two ways to do this. The first method is slow desensitization through exposure therapy. This works by slowly exposing yourself to your phobia as much as you can and stopping when it becomes too much. This technique hinges on increasing your tolerance to your phobia by experiencing it in longer and longer intervals, according to Dr. John M. Grohol of PsychCentral. The second technique that makes use of desensitization is flooding therapy. This involves experiencing your phobia as much as you possibly can, for as long as you can. Although counter-intuitive, some psychologists see merit in shocking oneself out of fear.
Informing Yourself Can Dispel Fear
The brain learns fear in two ways. The first is through experience, like getting chased by feral dogs. The second is by instruction, such as being told all your life that swimming in the sea will always lead to drowning. Inversely, information can also be how we learn that there is nothing to fear from our phobias. Picture your reaction to seeing a snake in the wild versus seeing it in a glass enclosure. The knowledge that it cannot get past the glass makes us feel safe. For example, if you fear open water, reading up on factors that lead to drowning will tell you what you should avoid. Learning as much as you can about the thing you fear will help you react more rationally to it the next time you encounter it.
Medical Understanding Of Phobias Is More Advanced Than Ever
We have more ways to treat the symptoms of phobias than ever before. This is especially useful to those who have severely debilitating phobias. For example, a team of psychologists from India have found that cognitive hypnotherapy is the best treatment for those who have such intense aquaphobia that they find it difficult to drink water. On the pharmaceutical front, we now know that sedatives like Xanax and beta-blockers can minimize symptoms and help those with phobias function normally. Antidepressants and relaxation techniques handle the aftercare side of things, assisting in dealing with the trauma that over-exposure to a phobia brings.
Hopefully, these pieces of evidence can help you do away with any doubts about whether you can overcome your phobias. As important as therapy and medicine are, learning to put mind over matter is just as crucial.