Category Archives: Phobia

Phobia and its Brain Chemistry

Phobia and its Brain ChemistryFear can make a moth seem the size of a bull elephant.” – Stephen Richards, Releasing You from Fear

Close your eyes for a moment and try to imagine the following situations: gasping for breathe in a crowded or closed place, trembling with fear prior to public speaking, panicking with dread be seeing heights and water, experiencing palpitations and profuse sweating by seeing animals… Well, you must be thinking that what is so great or wrong in all these stuff, right? As in what is wrong with closed places, water, innocent animals, heights or public places??? Well, for many people it may seem silly, but those are the difficult symptoms one goes through when he/she experiences phobic episodes.

Phobia is technically defined as an intense, irrational fear. You can develop phobia towards animals, insects, heights, water, closed places, public places and virtually anything that has the potentiality to trigger phobia within you. Before telling you the brain chemistry related to phobia, let me take you towards a quick tour on the causes and symptoms of phobia.

Causes of Phobia

  • Genetic Causes: If there is a family history of phobia
  • Observational Learning/Modeling: Sometimes one tends to develop phobia by seeing others reacting with intense fear towards a particular thing or situation.
  • Life Events: If a life event is too traumatic to bear, then the event or similar situations related to it can potentially trigger phobia symptoms.
  • Problems in coping: Lack or ineffective coping with different life events and situations can also cause phobia
  • Apprehensions and anxiety: Sometimes phobia is also created due to our speculations or apprehensions, without the situation/thing being a threat in reality.
  • Abnormalities in the brain: Maladaptive functioning of the brain chemicals or neurobiological elements can also trigger phobia.

Symptoms of Phobia

Physical Symptoms

  • Restlessness
  • Palpitations, shortness of breathe
  • Profuse sweating
  • Frequent urination
  • Changes in sleep and diet patterns

Psychological Symptoms

  • Intense fear
  • Feelings of anxiety
  • Social withdrawal
  • Depressive feelings
  • Apprehensions

So folks, we looked into the basics of phobia, its causes and its symptoms. Though phobia is caused by genetic factors, situational factors and so on, abnormalities in the brain chemistry or functioning also leads to phobic reactions in some cases. Let me tell you how:

We all have a brain center known as “amygdala”. Its shape is like an almond. It is linked to the brain’s perception of fear. Amygdala has an area called, lateral nucleus. This lateral nucleus is associated with fear responses. The amygdala is also a storehouse of emotional memories too. So what goes wrong and causes the brain to cause phobic reactions in an individual? Subsequent studies and findings have shown that brain lesions and damage to the amygdala cause phobia to a significant level. Other brain areas related to phobic causes or reactions are hypothalamus, hippocampus, and brain stem and so on. Damage to those areas due to any accident or medical cause can trigger specific phobias of different kinds.

Phobia caused due to abnormal functions of the brain is usually treated through an amalgamation of psychotherapies and biomedical drugs. Gone are the days when irrational intense fear was considered as untreatable and overwhelming to bear. Today, advancement in the treatment models of psychological disorders has changed the entire scenario of treatment and well-being. With the help of professional help you can deal with phobia in an effective manner and lead a normal life ‘n’ lifestyle. In the beginning, things may seem devastating to bear and overcome. But, once the treatment process starts, the road to recovery becomes smooth and steady.

When you explore your fears then you set yourself free.” – Stephen Richards, Releasing You from Fear

Online Treatment of Emetophobia – The Intense Fear of Vomiting

EmetophobiaHave you seen someone extremely afraid of vomiting, sickness or feeling nauseated every time? The intense fear of vomiting, fear of throwing up in public, feeling pukish under stressful and anxiety-provoking conditions… is known as emetophobia. It is derived from the amalgamation of two Greek words, viz. εμετός or emesis meaning to vomit and φόβος, meaning phobia or intense irrational fear.

I had a client of mine who would feel pukish under stressful conditions, while leaving home and in social settings. His phobia was so intense that he would eat ice cubes, chewing gum in order to pacify himself. In worst cases, he would also hold ice cubes in his hand to feel good. Emetophobia is not restricted to any certain age group. Starting from childhood to old age, it can affect people of any age range.

Emetophobia can seriously impair normal life functioning if it is not properly treated. Sometimes it presents itself with comorbid symptoms like agoraphobia, social anxiety, stress, fear of flying etc. Women in the reproductive age are pregnant women are among the worst sufferers of emetophobia. Since it is associated with vomiting, it makes the pregnancy phases even more difficult. You will be surprised to know that some women avoid getting pregnant due to profound emetophobia symptoms. They fear the vomiting episodes during pregnancy and morning sickness too.

Therefore, emetophobia is a serious condition for the ones who suffer from it. Not only the victims, but also the caretakers of emetophobia sufferers also have a hard time in helping them and dealing with them. Now, let us look into the pathological aspects of emetophobia:

Causes of Emetophobia

  • Possible traumatic experience with vomiting.
  • Experience of childhood abuse (physical/sexual).
  • Anxiety and its profound symptoms.
  • Lack of a sound locus of control or sense of self-control.
  • Environmental factors and effects one’s surroundings.
  • Illness, pregnancy or alcoholism.

Emetophobia is caused due to several reasons and each and every age group is vulnerable to it.

Symptoms of emetophobia

  • Restlessness and anxiety
  • Digestive upsets
  • Feeling nauseated or need to vomit
  • Palpitations, profuse sweating
  • Stomach pain

Though the symptoms may seem only a few in numbers, they are too difficult to bear. Sometimes, emetophobia is so severe that the patient falls into a trap of depression and suicidal tendencies.

Treatment of Emetophobia

This is another aspect that will surprise you even more. Usually people suffering from any psychological or physical ailment feel better by taking medications. But, emetophobia is one such condition in which people avoid taking medicines. Since some medicines lead to feelings of nausea and vomiting, therefore patients with emetophobia often avoid taking medications. In exceptional cases, some feel well after starting medicines, some also do well after taking gastrointestinal medicines too.

Effective treatment of emetophobia however, comprises of psychotherapies and counseling. Exposure therapies, systematic desensitization, behavior therapy, cognitive behavior therapies, etc. are the ones that are most beneficial in the treatment of emetophobia.

Emetophobia is a very critical ailment to bear and overcome. It affects one’s personal, educational, social, professional… almost all the dimensions of life. Therefore, people suffering from emetophobia need your empathetic understanding and care.