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Fears and phobias

If we’re put in a situation, or with an object or animal, that we find threatening, we will become anxious and often put ourselves in a position where we avoid coming in to contact with the object of our fear. This is known as the ‘fight or flight’ response. This is very helpful if we’re faced with something that can do real harm to us. However, it often stops us from doing things we want to do, and being in places we would like to be.

Common fears and phobias may include:

  • Social situations
  • Speaking out in a group
  • Meeting new people
  • Shopping in busy places
  • Fear of being away from home
  • Driving
  • Flying on aeroplanes
  • Health anxieties, such as visiting the dentist or doctors
  • Fear of being sick
  • Animals such as birds, pets, insects

Like the entire animal kingdom, we have certain inbuilt survival instincts – a newborn baby will turn to its mother’s breast and suck in order to feed; a six month old baby will show fear of heights; a mother hearing any baby cry will usually want to pick up the baby and nurse it; we pull our hands away from fire. These instincts protect us and the next generation and thus keep humankind going. Fear and phobias are also an instinct, and if we did not have it built into us, we would not have survived for the very long time humans have been on earth.

The basic role of stress is to protect us from danger. It does this by:

  • Warning us about possible threats.
  • Putting our bodies and minds ‘on alert’ to tackle these threats. It makes us focus on the threat and fills us with power and energy to fight the threat or run from it.
  • Keeping us on alert until the threat has passed.

We call this response ‘fight or flight’ because it puts us in our best shape to either run away from danger (flight) or tackle the danger head on (fight). This response was very useful for early humans due to the dangers which were all around.

If you would like support to manage your fears or phobias please refer yourself by calling 0191 282 6600 or complete our online referral form.

For more information about phobias, please click here.

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