If you admit to having a phobia, you’re not alone: about 11 percent of people have felt irrational fears at some point in their lives. Some phobias are so bizarre, triggered by harmless situations like sitting down (kathisophobia), trees (dendrophobia) or the color yellow (xanthophobia), that it’s difficult to imagine anyone feeling frightened when they encounter them. For some individuals, just thinking about the objects they fear can bring on severe anxiety.
We tease each other about our phobias, but the symptoms are no joke. People with phobias can experience feelings of choking, chest pains, heart pounding, nausea or trembling. Sufferers can feel out of control and overwhelmed by their symptoms, to the extent that they plan their lives around avoiding phobia triggers.
Experts agree that most phobias are caused by some event we may not even remember, sometimes as minor as a scary TV show we watched as a child. Here are a few of the weirdest phobias we found:
If you have a phobia, you can get help in easing your fears. For a mild phobia, sometimes all it takes to cope with fear is to take a deep breath and visualize the situation that scares you. As you practice mentally spending time with your phobia, calm yourself with soothing, positive statements such as, “I’m going to be just fine.”
For more serious anxiety, talk to a counselor or therapist about undergoing Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). With CBT, the therapist guides you to learning a new, healthier thought pattern that will replace the anxiety-causing thoughts of your phobia. In some instances, hypnotherapy and exposure therapy—exposing the patient, in tiny increments, to the source of the anxiety—are part of the treatment plan.
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