Certain organizations can provide you with more information about specific phobia, and can help you find support groups. The following organizations are a good place to start:
Anxiety Disorders Association of America11900 Parklawn Drive, Suite 100Rockville, MD 20852301-231-5484
www.adaa.orgPhobics AnonymousPO Box 1180Palm Springs, CA 92263760-322-COPE
Your doctor is the best source of information on the drug treatment choices available to you.
Exposure therapy helps people overcome the fear associated with their specific phobia. During exposure therapy, an individual is exposed gradually or all at once to the object or situation that causes their fear.
Therapists ask patients to visualize the situation or object that causes them anxiety, and then teach patients relaxation techniques to deal with their feelings. The objective of exposure therapy is to decrease the amount of anxiety a person feels when subjected to the feared object or situation. Eventually, the patient will become desensitized to the feared stimulus, and will overcome the specific phobia. The duration of exposure therapy depends on the individual.
Daily use of benzodiazapines, a type of anti-anxiety drug, can lead to physical dependence over time. Patients who have a past history of alcohol or drug abuse, especially, tend to overuse anti-anxiety drugs. Dependence can develop when a person uses these medications on a daily basis over a period of time. Withdrawal results when a person abruptly stops taking their anti-anxiety medication. Mild symptoms of withdrawal include rebound anxiety, involuntary movements, insomnia, restlessness, and perceptual changes. Severe symptoms can include confusion and seizures.
Some benzodiazepines can harm a developing fetus. When taken by a pregnant woman, some benzodiazepines (alprazolam, lorazepam, and oxazepam) can harm the developing fetus. For others, safety during pregnancy has not been established.
Unless complicated with other anxiety disorders, specific phobia is usually completely curable. Success rates are very high when patients are treated with exposure therapy, the treatment of choice for those with specific phobia. Some simple phobias originating in childhood resolve as the person gets older.
Contact your physician if symptoms do not resolve after psychotherapy and anti-anxiety drug treatment. Due to the fact that psychotherapy is often combined with drug therapy for the treatment of social phobia, a physician must monitor not only the proper use of the drugs, but also the progress the patient is making in exposure or insight-oriented psychotherapy.
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