Anxiety is one of the most often discussed issues in therapy. It takes many forms. I explain to clients that if anxiety is the title of a book, it has many chapters.
One chapter in the book would be titled phobias. A phobia is an extreme fear or dread.
After the tornado visited Owensboro in January 2000 there was a considerable increase in people experiencing storm/tornado phobias. School teachers could attest to the increase in anxiety in the classroom on stormy days.
While approximately 100 homes were destroyed and many more received moderate to severe damage, there were no fatalities. Yet, now, more than 18 years later this fear still dwells within many people in Owensboro. Many people not personally affected by the tornado, remain to this date terrified of storms.
People with specific phobias such as snakes or tornadoes remain vigilant. One might decline any offers to hike in the woods for fear of snakes. One might watch the weather channel daily or hourly and track all national storms, dreading the time when radar shows rain headed our way.
Phobias can and do interfere with one’s normal routines, occupational functioning, and social activities. Phobias are very real to those who suffer from them. A person may develop a fear of being in crowds or have anxiety about going to new places. At it’s extreme, a person may be afraid to leave his/her home.
Telling a person that they should ‘just get over it’ or ‘just forget it’ doesn’t help or change the anxiety the individual experiences. Needless to say, phobias can become a problem for someone and his/her significant other.
There are things that can help.
Working with a therapist can alleviate the anxiety. Therapy provides an opportunity to talk it out.
Systematic desensitization (fancy words for little by little learning to overcome the fear) has been proven effective.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help change your patterns of thinking or behavior so that you view the thing that frightens you in a different light.
There are medications that may be helpful, but it might be best to try a non-medicinal approach first, as anti-anxiety medications can be addictive and act merely as a band-aid.
If you struggle with anxiety, know that there are ways to receive help and there is a better life out there waiting for you!
About the writer: Amy Fredrickson-Wilkey grew up in Cincinnati before making Owensboro her home 39 years ago. She is married, has three adult children and the four sweetest GRANDS on earth. Amy is a therapist at Counseling Associates who enjoys cooking, traveling, photography, gardening, serial killer mystery books and foreign films in her spare time. Not to mention she is cut-throat when it comes to games with friends.