Feelings of fear are normal and often helpful in times of danger, as they can help warn a person of a harmful situation and have them prepare to handle it, thus getting them out of harm’s way. Certain levels of fear are normal, and even healthy, and each situation has a different level of fear which is acceptable to the circumstances.
For example, it is normal to be terrified when you are standing at a great height, afraid to fall. This is your body’s way of warning you to steer clear of the depth. It is also normal to be squeamish around spiders or other insects, as it can help you in the case that these insects are venomous. In a way, the fear is your friend, helping you to stay safe and warning you to be careful.
However, when these levels of fear exceed a reasonable degree, it may be a sign of a type of anxiety disorder known as a phobia. When you are standing at a great height or in the face of a spider, and you are suddenly overwhelmed with a sense of panic, and your vision begins to become unclear as you are overcome with the dread of dying or an urge to choke, this is no longer a healthy reaction to the situation.
Because of these feelings, you will be taking great and often unnecessary measures to avoid the situation at all times and at all costs. When faced with the situation your phobia is associated with, you’ll always have an intense need to escape, making your decisions in the moment irrational, unstable, and possibly harmful to your mental health.
Common phobias may include a fear of heights, spiders and insects, and darkness. Less common are the fear of needles or pointed objects, clowns, and thunder or lightning. These can be easy to recognize as they are situations and objects that will probably be faced more than once in a person’s life, making it more likely the fear can be pinpointed.
Rare phobias are more difficult to assess, as they are not usually encountered frequently, such as the fear of reptiles, ferns, or even holes. Phobias extend to such a wide spectrum of situations, it’s important to be aware at all times and assess if your fear is still at an acceptable range.
Once you’ve identified whether this fear is within normal parameters, you can now take action and get treatment if necessary. It’s important to learn to face your fears, no matter how long the process may take, most especially if it is something you will be seeing often. Fear can consume your thoughts and lead to more serious mental health issues.