Special Facts on Specific Phobias

Get the Facts! 

Sometimes, people have false beliefs about feared objects or situations so it can be very helpful to get the facts. For example, if you have a fear of needles because you believe the needle could hit a bone or lead to an infection, it can be helpful to talk to a nurse about how deep the needle actually goes, and how each needle is sterilized. Some people believe that the chance of a plane crash is high; getting the statistics on how infrequently planes actually do crash can be reassuring to them. Seeking out experts in the field is a good place to start. Such professionals could include physicians, mechanics, religious leaders, engineers, veterinarians, and more. Reducing and even eliminating your fear/s by learning the facts can be a simple first step to take. If your fear persists, then you can view information outlined on the Specific Phobia My Anxiety Plan page for additional resources.

Special Case: Blood-Injection-Injury Phobias

If you have a phobia of blood, needles or of being injured, your symptoms might be different from other phobias. Like other phobias, your heart rate and blood pressure increase when confronted, in this case, by blood or a needle. However, unlike other phobias, this increase can be followed by a quick drop in blood pressure, which causes dizziness and/or nausea. You can even faint. Although a fear of fainting is common in all phobias, blood-injection-injury phobia is the only phobia where fainting can actually occur. In this case, it is important to learn some strategies to prevent fainting. For more information on how to prevent yourself from fainting, see How to do Applied Tension. and go to the Specific Phobia My Anxiety Plan page for additional resources.

Special Case: Paruresis, or, “shy bladder”

Occasional difficulty urinating in situations where other people are in close proximity, or in locations where there is fear of being negatively judged, isn’t uncommon. However, if you are one of the 220 million people worldwide who struggles with this all of the time, you may have a condition called Paruresis. Paruresis occurs when the nervous system activates the sphincter muscles to tighten and thus to block the flow of urine, stopping the individual from being able to pee. But what causes activation of the nervous system? Anxiety! As soon as the individual with paruresis senses the need to urinate, the brain sounds the fight-flight-freeze alert system and triggers a flood of physiological processes (e.g., elevated heart and respiratory rate, tightness in the stomach and bowels, sweating, and more), and fear thoughts, such as, people might look at me; Someone might make a comment; What if I pee on myself? As a result, the sphincter muscles tighten, preventing the urethra from releasing urine. For many individuals this condition starts during adolescence but for some it can start at any age. Fortunately, as with other specific phobias, CBT has been shown to be an effective treatment for this condition. For more information of how to treat specific phobias please review the Specific Phobia My Anxiety Plan page.