The Conventional Approach
Many people with debilitating phobias are prescribed scheduled drugs to control their anxiety. These may include anti-anxiety drugs such as benzodiazepines, Buspar or antidepressants such as Prozac. Be sure that you understand and research the side effects and potential for addiction when accepting a prescription for any psychiatric drug and be aware that there are alternatives.
Alternative or Complementary approaches
Research has shown that anxiety in general (including phobias) responds best to a combination of treatment modalities. A more holistic approach would include appropriate therapeutic treatment by a registered psychologist, as well as the use of natural remedies, relaxation techniques and other treatment methods such as hypnotherapy or acupuncture.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Desensitization or exposure therapy is the most common method of treating phobias. This method includes gradual exposure to the feared object or situation at a gentle and understanding pace. If you are afraid of dogs, this therapy will encourage you to speak about dogs, look at pictures of them, be in the same room as one and eventually touch one.
All this will take time and you will be encouraged to go at a pace which is least distressing for you, while still making steady progress. CBT will also challenge your thoughts about your phobia and change them into more positive and empowering thoughts, giving you control over your fears.
Meditation, deep breathing and muscle relaxation are a few techniques that have been shown to reduce anxiety and clear the mind of unwanted thoughts and concerns. These techniques are often practiced along with CBT to help you manage your fear as you face it.
Natural Herbal and Homeopathic Remedies
There are certain natural products that can be taken to help relieve some of the anxiety associated with specific Phobias, as well as to reduce overall anxiety levels and promote a sense of well being and confidence. These can be especially useful if used in conjunction with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
The calming effects of certain herbs such as Hypericum perforatum (St John’s Wort), Passiflora incarnata, Scutellaria laterifolia (Scullcap) and Valerian, can help to take the edge off the initial exposure to the feared object or situation and reduce over-all anxiety. These remedies can be taken without the worry of unwanted side-effects and can help to restore the body’s natural balance and serenity.
There are also certain homeopathic remedies which are prescribed for specific Phobias and which can help to reduce the symptoms of anxiety and panic which accompany the phobia.