Although anxiety, fear and phobias can seem alike, they are distinctly unique as explained in an excerpt from an article titled, ‘Anxiety and Fear’, by Psychologist Tim Clinton.

Fear

While most people experience fear as a negative emotion, fear has a positive component. If you find that you have turned down a one-way street and see a car heading directly at you, fear triggers an autonomic response that sends a signal to your brain to “flee” the potentially dangerous situation. Fear becomes a problem when a person becomes afraid of things that are not real or when the feeling of fear is out of proportion to what the person is actually experiencing. Fear is an emotion that draws someone into a self-protective mode. More often than not, fears are related to what a person perceives as a threat to his safety and security. He may fear losing his job, having his home burglarized or having conflict in a relationship.

Anxiety

Anxiety is a constant fearful state, accompanied by a feeling of unrest, dread, or worry in which the person may not be aware of what is creating the feeling of fear. Anxiety is aroused by a number of factors: External situations (viewing the nightly news, fast paced lifestyle) Physical well-being (lack of sleep, blood sugar imbalance) Learning (parents who were highly anxious) Trauma (situations that may be similar to experiences of the past that caused great pain).

Anxiety’s symptoms can include: – Inability to relax – Tense feelings – Rapid heartbeat – Dry mouth – Increased blood pressure – Jumpiness or feeling faint – Excessive perspiring – Feeling clammy – Constant anticipation of trouble – Constant feeling of uneasiness

Phobias

Phobias are a specific fear of something in particular. Phobias are fear that are out of proportion to the object, situation, activity feared. For example, one may have a fear of spiders. A person exhibits a phobia when seeing a small spider on the ceiling of a room and refusing to ever enter the room again.

Panic Attacks

Panic attacks are sudden, overwhelming, fearful reactions with feelings of impending doom. In a panic attack, the person feels out of control.

Symptoms include: – Being paralysed by the flight-or-fight response Shortness of breath – Racing heartbeat – Sweating – Dizziness – Nausea – Diarrhoea – Ringing ears – Choking – Vertigo – Becoming homebound in fear of another attack The person generally has no clear idea what prompted the reaction and then becomes afraid of another episode occurring. The sufferer may feel like he is going crazy or is having a heart attack.

Note: More than three attacks in a month or the onset of a person refusing to go out of the house indicate the need for professional treatment.

Relational Fears

There are four major relational fears that people experience that can significantly alter the quality of one’s life: – Fear of failure – Fear of rejection – Fear of abandonment – Fear of death/dying

 

“Unless fear, worry, and anxiety are honestly faced and worked through, people can end up in a pattern of avoidance — organising their lives around people and situations that they must avoid.” — ARCHIBALD D. HART

Sources:

Dr Tim Clinton, ‘Anxiety & Fear’ http://timclinton.com/articles/6/anxiety-and-fear

Help for Anxiety, Fears & Phobias

If you suffer from anxiety, fears and phobias that are robbing you of quality of life, seek the help of a professional counsellor.

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