woman suffering from agoraphobia

Are Irrational Fears Ruining Your Life?

Most of us have one or two fears that can be loosely described as irrational, such as of spiders and creepy crawlies, or of a visit to the dentist. However, some people are so fearful of certain things that it can interfere with their daily lives and cause them exceptional stress and anxiety. When this occurs, such fears are usually referred to as phobias; a fear of something that isn’t necessarily harmful, but which still has the ability to induce intense terror. Some more common examples of this are:

  • Agoraphobia: a fear of open and enclosed spaces
  • Acrophobia: a fear of heights
  • Aerophobia: a fear of flying

It’s true that most phobias develop during childhood, but adults can develop them at any time, too.  

What is a normal fear in comparison to an irrational one?

Most of us are fearful in situations that pose a real threat to our health and safety, and our automatic ‘fight or flight’ response kicks in; this is perfectly normal. But when the threat is non-existent or exaggerated, our fear can usually be classed as irrational.

What are some of the signs and symptoms of irrational fears and phobias?

Some of the most common symptoms of a phobia range from mild feelings of apprehension and unease, to a full-blown panic attack that you can’t control. Some of the physical symptoms are listed below:

  • A racing or thudding heartbeat
  • Trouble breathing
  • Pain in the chest or a sensation of tightness
  • Shaking or trembling
  • A churning sensation in your stomach
  • Feeling nauseous or lightheaded
  • Sweating

While below are some of the emotional symptoms of an irrational fear or phobia:

  • A feeling of being overwhelmed by anxiety, panic or fear
  • A strong feeling of needing to escape
  • Fear of losing control or going crazy
  • The sensation that you’re going to die or faint
  • Feeling as if you’re not present in your body

If you experience any of these symptoms due to a phobia, you might recognize the fact that what you’re feeling or thinking is irrational, but it may be beyond your ability to control your fears. The first step to being able to overcome your phobias, is to understand them, and a counselor or therapist can help you to do this.

Seeking professional help to treat a phobia

While self-help strategies can be enormously helpful for mild irrational fears, for phobias that are having a very real and negative impact on a person’s life these are often best combined with some form of talking therapy administered by a professional. If your phobia is triggering panic attacks and irrational behavior, then counseling can help you combat your fears and get back to feeling safe and at ease in the world around you.

Nobody deserves to live in fear, whether that fear is irrational or otherwise, and if phobias are ruining your life, help is out there.