Understanding the Difference between Fear and Phobia

by | Jun 26, 2015 | Healthcare

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Fear is an emotion that can be triggered in any of us when we feel unsafe. A phobia takes fear beyond its basic instinctual feeling and turns it into an intense reaction that most people would consider an over reaction. However for the person with the phobia the intense fear is not only very real, it can also be paralyzing. Here is a brief look at the differences between fear and phobia:

In general terms fear is designed to protect us. It is triggered as a natural way of letting us know we are in danger. It can keep us from making dumb decisions such as jumping off cliffs and also triggers us to flee when faced with imminent danger. Fear is part of our natural survival instincts and therefore is a good emotion. Depending on the situation fear can vary from a slight scare that many people might even enjoy such as watching a scary movie or going on a scary ride, to an intense fear such as being under attack.

Fear triggers our “fight or flight” response allowing us to make a decision on what will give us a better chance of survival. However when the body is unable to turn off this natural response, it is often due to a phobia.

Phobias cause us to look at fear disproportionately. It makes a person feel that they are in far more danger than they actually are. It can bring a feeling of worry or dread, but can be so bad that people can literally become paralyzed with fear. Phobias are often caused by an unpleasant event in our lives. For example a fear of dogs is not uncommon in someone who might have been bitten by a dog.

The problem with a phobia is that it can have a very negative impact on your life. Depending on what the fear is based, it can stop people from performing the simplest of tasks. For example someone with fear of small spaces might have to take the stairs because they are too afraid to ride in an elevator. Someone with fear of thunderstorms might be obsessed with weather and be too afraid to go to work or school if there is a chance of thunderstorms.

Phobias can hold people back from living a full and happy life. Luckily there is phobia treatment available in El Paso TX to help people to learn to live with their phobias.

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