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Various methods are claimed to treat phobias. Their proposed benefits may vary from person to person.

Some therapists use virtual reality or imagery exercise to desensitize patients to the feared entity. These are parts of systematic desensitization therapy.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be beneficial. Cognitive behavioral therapy allows the patient to challenge dysfunctional thoughts or beliefs by being mindful of their own feelings with the aim that the patient will realize their fear is irrational. CBT may be conducted in a group setting. Gradual desensitisation treatment and CBT are often successful, provided the patient is willing to endure some discomfort.[1][2] In one clinical trial, 90% of patients were observed with no longer having a phobic reaction after successful CBT treatment.[2][3][4][5]

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) has been demonstrated in peer-reviewed clinical trials to be effective in treating some phobias. Mainly used to treat Post-traumatic stress disorder, EMDR has been demonstrated as effective in easing phobia symptoms following a specific trauma, such as a fear of dogs following a dog bite.[6]

Hypnotherapy coupled with Neuro-linguistic programming can also be used to help remove the associations that trigger a phobic reaction.[7] However, lack of research and scientific testing compromises its status as an effective treatment.

Antidepressant medications such SSRIs, MAOIs may be helpful in some cases of phobia. Benzodiazepines may be useful in acute treatment of severe symptoms but the risk benefit ratio is against their long-term use in phobic disorders.[8]

There are also new pharmacological approaches, which target learning and memory processes that occur during psychotherapy. For example, it has been shown that glucocorticoids can enhance extinction-based psychotherapy.[9]

Emotional Freedom Technique, a psychotherapeutic alternative medicine tool, also considered to be pseudoscience by the mainstream medicine, is allegedly useful.[citation needed]

These treatment options are not mutually exclusive. Often a therapist will suggest multiple treatments.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Hall, Lynne L. Fighting Phobias, the Things That Go Bump in the Mind, FDA Consumer Magazine, Volume 31 No. 2, March 1997.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Wolpe, Joseph (1958). Psychotherapy by reciprocal inhibition., Stanford University Press.
  3. E. B., Foa, Blau, J. S., Prout, M., & Latimer, P. (1977). Is horror a necessary component of flooding (implosion)?. Behaviour Research and Therapy (15): 397–402.
  4. Craske, Michelle; Martin M. Antony, David H. Barlow (2006). Mastering your fears and phobias,, US: Oxford University Press.
  5. Eysenck, Hans (1977). You and Neurosis.
  6. De Jongh A; Ten Broeke E; Renssen M R. (1999) Treatment of specific phobias with Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): protocol, empirical status, and conceptual issues. Journal of anxiety disorders 1999;13(1-2):69-85.
  7. "Hypnotist removes phobias with hypnotherapy and NLP"
  8. (16 February Fears are common in children and adolescents. However, for some youth, these fears persist and develop into specific phobias. A specific phobia is an intense, enduring fear of an identifiable object or situation that may lead to panic symptoms, distress, and avoidance (e.g., fears of dogs, snakes, storms, heights, costumed characters, the dark, and similar objects or situations). Moreover, phobias can affect a youngster's quality of life by interfering with school, family, friends, and free-time. It is estimated that 5% to 10% of youth will develop a phobia before reaching the age of 16. 2004) Clinical Manual of Anxiety Disorders, 1st, USA: American Psychiatric Press Inc.
  9. de Quervain D et al., Glucocorticoids enhance extinction-based psychotherapy. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Mar 28. [Epub ahead of print]PMID: 21444799.
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