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Phobias

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MENTAL HEALTH

Stress & Anxiety

From MayoClinic.com 

Treatment

Your doctor or a mental health professional may suggest medications or behavioral therapies or both to treat phobias. The objective of treatment is to reduce anxiety and fear and to help you better manage your reactions to the object or situation that causes them.

Medications

  • Beta blockers. These medications work by blocking the stimulating effect of epinephrine (adrenaline). They block some of the peripheral signs of adrenaline's stimulation and anxiety, including increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, pounding of the heart, and shaking voice and limbs.

  • Antidepressants. Antidepressants also can reduce anxiety. The most commonly used antidepressants are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These medications act on the chemical serotonin, a neurotransmitter in your brain that's believed to influence mood. SSRIs include citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac), fluvoxamine (Luvox), paroxetine (Paxil) and sertraline (Zoloft). Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) block the chemical monoamine oxidase in the nervous system. MAOIs include phenelzine (Nardil) and tranylcypromine (Parnate).

  • Sedatives. Medications called benzodiazepines help you relax by reducing the amount of anxiety that you feel. They include lorazepam (Ativan), diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax) and chlordiazepoxide (Librium). Sedatives need to be used with caution because they can be addictive. It's generally safe to use low doses of sedatives infrequently or only for short periods. However, sedatives should be avoided if you have a previous history of abusing alcohol or other drugs.

Behavioral therapy

A number of relaxation techniques, when practiced regularly, can help you reduce symptoms of anxiety such as muscle tension and worry. The most common forms of relaxation therapy are progressive muscle relaxation (learning to relax your muscles) and autogenic relaxation (using imagery to help you relax). Various forms of meditation, involving your focusing on a word or object in a quiet environment to provide relaxation, also are used. Once you learn one of these techniques, you can do it anytime, anywhere, to help you manage anxiety. Relaxation training is one step in behavioral therapy, but not everyone needs it for successful treatment.

Desensitization therapy focuses on changing your response to the feared object or situation. Gradual, repeated exposure to the cause of your phobia may help you learn to conquer your fear. For example, if you're afraid of flying, your therapy may progress from having you think about flying to looking at pictures of airplanes, to going to an airport, to sitting in an airplane, and to finally taking a flight.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a more comprehensive form of therapy. It involves you and your therapist learning ways you can view and cope with the feared object or situation differently. You learn alternative beliefs about the feared object or situation and the impact it has on your life. There's special emphasis on learning to develop a sense of mastery and control of your thoughts and feelings.

Treatment choices

Simple phobias usually are treated with behavioral therapy. Social phobias may be treated with antidepressants or beta blockers, along with behavioral therapy. Agoraphobia, especially when it's accompanied by a panic disorder, is usually treated with SSRIs and behavioral therapy.

 

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
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