The relationship between anxiety and phobia can often be blurred during mental health discussions and assessments. At the heart of the relationship is that phobias exist as one of the many types of anxiety. Phobias, much like any type of anxiety, leave patients susceptible to varying degrees of symptoms and treatment recommendations which can also mirror those for other forms of anxiety.
Anxiety disorders encompass a wide range of diagnoses. Those diagnosed with an anxiety disorder often suffer from an inability to control stress, which is often exaggerated, and live in a constant state of fear and worry. Some of the most common anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and phobic disorder.
Phobia is the fear of a specific situation or object. Often, the situation or object feared poses little or no actual danger; however, those suffering from a phobic disorder react in an anxious manner when confronted with it. Some common phobias include those having to do with social situations, such as meeting new people, and those having to do with objects, such as spiders.
The stress caused by anxiety and phobia can be so severe that a person may be diagnosed as having a phobic disorder. While anxiety and phobias aren't uncommon, those with phobic disorder have difficulty managing their responsibilities and finding enjoyment in life because of the severe anxiety surrounding the phobia. At this point, an individual often needs to seek the help of a mental professional to gain control and take back his or her life.
An individual with a phobia will experience some of the same symptoms as those with other anxiety disorders. When an individual confronts his or her fear, or in some instances simply thinks about it, the pulse may quicken and he or she may begin sweating. Other symptoms a person with anxiety and phobia may experience include nausea, shaking, and difficulty talking. In addition, some individuals may go on to experience symptoms commonly classified under panic attacks, such as trouble breathing, dizziness, and chest pain if the anxiety surrounding the phobia isn't brought under control.
Treatment options for anxiety and phobia both include medication and counseling. The medications prescribed can help the patient cope with the symptoms, while dealing with any underlying issues, such as depression. Prescriptions can include anti-anxiety and depression medications. Counseling sessions with a trained psychologist will also typically be necessary to help the individual identify the source of any phobias and develop strategies to overcome them.