Professional treatment can help you overcome your phobia or manage it effectively so you don't become a prisoner to your fears. You can also take some steps on your own to cope and care for yourself:
- Try not to avoid feared situations.Family, friends and your therapist can help you work on this.
- Reach out. Consider joining a self-help or support group where you can connect with others who understand what you're going through.
- Take medication as directed. Don't stop a medication without first talking with your health care professional, as some medications can cause withdrawal-like symptoms.
- Take care of yourself. Get enough rest, eat healthy and try to be physically active every day.
Helping your child cope with fears
Childhood fears, such as fear of the dark, of monsters or of being left alone, are common, and most children outgrow them. But if your child has a persistent, excessive fear that's limiting his or her ability to function in daily life, talk to your doctor.
To help your child cope with fears:
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- Talk openly about fears. Don't trivialize the problem or belittle your child for being afraid. Instead, let your child know that you're there to listen and to help.
- Don't reinforce phobias. Instead, take advantage of opportunities to help children overcome their fears. If your child is afraid of the neighbor's friendly dog, for example, don't go out of your way to avoid the animal. Instead, help your child cope when confronted with the dog. For example, you might offer to be your child's home base, waiting and offering support while your child steps a little closer to the dog and then returns to you for safety. Over time, encourage your child to keep closing the distance.
- Model positive behavior. Because children learn by watching, you can demonstrate how to respond when confronted by something your child fears. You can first demonstrate fear and then show how to overcome the fear.
- Anxiety disorders. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association, 2013. http://www.psychiatryonline.com. Accessed July 25, 2013.
- Phobias. American Psychiatric Association. http://www.psychiatry.org/phobias. Accessed July 22, 2013.
- Phobic disorders. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/psychiatric_disorders/anxiety_disorders/phobic_disorders.html?qt=phobic%20disorders&alt=sh. Accessed July 29, 2013.
- Anxiety disorders. National Institute of Mental Health. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml. Accessed July 29, 2013.
- Augustyn M. Overview of fears and specific phobias in children. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 29, 2013.
- Whiteside SP (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 27, 2013.
- Hall-Flavin DK (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 29, 2013.