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The symptoms of phobias

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phobias,any phobia can produce the unpleasant physical symptoms of ‘normal’ fear:

* heart palpitations

* feeling sick

* chest pains

* difficulty breathing

* dizziness

* ‘jelly legs’

* feeling ‘unreal’

* intense sweating

* feeling faint

* dry throat

* restricted or ‘fuzzy’ vision or hearing.

In severe cases, people may feel certain that they are about to die, go mad, or lose control of themselves and injure someone, or do something disgusting and humiliating. Most of all they feel an overpowering urge to ‘escape’ from the situation they are in. They also develop an acute fear of repeating these very unpleasant experiences, and this is what really gives the phobia its power.

Of course, these are feelings, not reality. The plain truth is that even the worst panic attacks do not cause any long-term ill-effects, and people simply do not die, go mad, or cause mayhem as a result.


Someone with severe phobic symptoms has a ‘severe anxiety condition’, which is much worse than just being nervous or ‘a bit of a worrier’. Anxiety at this level can be as disabling as many physical diseases. However, because it seems so silly to feel so awful in such ordinary situations, many people look for a more ‘logical’ explanation.

Sometimes they convince themselves that they must have a serious mental or physical illness, and become frequent visitors to their doctor’s surgery. They may end up having a long series of medical tests, all of which draw a blank.

So it is often a relief to learn that a phobia is not a mental illness either, and that the bodily changes caused by severe anxiety do indeed cause nasty symptoms which can seem like a serious disease. However, this does not mean that a person with a phobic condition does not also have a medical problem. This is one reason why we always recommend phobics to keep in touch with their GP.

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