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Living With Phobias

Tips and Ideas for Living With a Phobia


Updated February 24, 2008

Living with a phobia can be difficult. Even if the feared object or situation does not regularly appear in your daily life, you may find that a lot of your time is spent worrying that it may appear or figuring out how to avoid it. Although the specific concerns for each type of phobia may vary, they can generally be divided into three basic categories.

Telling Friends and Family

Telling friends and family about your phobia may be very emotional for you. You may fear that they will judge you or make fun of you. You may also worry that they will treat you as a sick person or try to do too much for you.

Although disclosing your phobia can be difficult, it is a necessary step in the healing process. This guide will help you understand when and how to disclose appropriately.

Psychological and Emotional Effects of Phobias

Phobias often have a far-reaching effect, causing difficulties in many areas of life. You may wonder if what you are feeling is normal. Provided here is a guide to some common effects of phobias and tips on successfully managing them.

Support Resources

Although you will find primary support from your therapist and closest friends or relatives, you may discover that additional support makes coping easier. Many people find it helpful to read first-person accounts of people’s personal struggles with phobias. Others search for the latest treatment information. Many find that simply speaking with someone who has been there makes things a bit easier to handle.

Although many phobia sufferers experience similar concerns despite the type of phobia they have, each type of phobia also brings with it specific concerns.

Specific Phobias

Some specific phobias are fairly easy to avoid, if they do not regularly appear in your daily life. However, if you have a specific phobia, you may be fearful of new situations. You may worry that the object of your fear will be present. You may also experience embarrassment when asking if a new friend has a dog or turning down a camping trip for fear that boating may be involved.

Social Phobia

Social phobia can be extremely life-limiting. You may find yourself basing educational and career moves on the likelihood of being exposed to your feared situation. You might turn down dates or stay home from parties. Social phobia can also lead to self-replicating cycles in which your phobia causes you to act oddly, reinforcing your fear of acting oddly in public.


Agoraphobia is perhaps the most pervasive and difficult to manage of all the phobias. Agoraphobia is essentially the fear of having a panic attack. When attempting to confront agoraphobia, you may have a panic attack brought on by the agoraphobia. This in turn may reinforce your belief in your inability to control panic attacks, making the agoraphobia even worse.

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