Phobias - Topic Overview
How are they treated?
cognitive-behavioral therapy. This therapy includes
imagining or actually being close to the object, situation, or activity that
you are afraid of. This is called exposure therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can be
done with one person or in a group.
One type of exposure involves
a series of steps to get closer to the object, situation, or activity. This is
called systematic desensitization. For example, if you have a phobia of
heights, you might first imagine yourself in a high place, such as a balcony on
the 10th floor of a building. Then you would do an exercise to help you relax
until your worry and fear about heights are less. Next, you would try going
onto a balcony on a lower floor and do the exercise to help you relax. Finally,
over time, you might be able to go onto the 10th-floor balcony without being
Sometimes your doctor might prescribe medicine. Medicine
may help with the symptoms of anxiety that you have because of your
phobia. Medicine for phobias is most useful if it is combined with
The type or class of medicines
called benzodiazepines (such as Xanax or Valium) is sometimes used to treat the
stress and worry of specific phobias. Beta-blockers (such as atenolol or
propranolol) are sometimes used to treat the physical symptoms of being
stressed and worried about a phobia, such as having a faster heartbeat.
Beta-blockers are used for blood-injection-injury phobias. They might also be
used for performance anxiety, such as fear of speaking in front of a group of
Unfortunately, many people don't seek treatment for
anxiety disorders. You may not seek treatment because you think the symptoms
are not bad enough or that you can work things out on your own. But getting
treatment is important.
If you need help deciding whether to see
your doctor, see
some reasons why people don't get help and how to overcome them.