Explains phobias, including possible causes and how you can access treatment and support. Includes tips for helping yourself, and guidance for friends and family.
There are various things you can try to address your phobia and reduce the impact it has on your life. Some people find these ideas useful but they may not be for everyone – only try what you feel comfortable with.
You might find that talking to someone you trust about your phobia can help. It may be that just having someone listen to you and showing they care can help in itself.
Learning to manage the panic and anxiety you feel as a result of your phobia can be really difficult, but it can help you feel more in control and less anxious about facing the situation or object you fear.
"Instead of trying to prevent myself from being afraid, I accept that I will be, and try to cope with the fear as it happens. This is less exhausting and in general it’s helped me better cope."
"Find the best support network you can – whether that's friends, family or people you meet online. Having the right people backing you can make all the difference in the world!"
Some people find self-help books or online programmes helpful for coping with phobias. They are often based on the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and will help you develop your own programme to reduce anxiety and make it easier to face your fear. There are many available – search online or contact an organisation like Anxiety UK or No More Panic for more information.
Reading Well Books on Prescription are self-help books that your doctor might prescribe for you. You are also able to buy them online and they may be available in your local library.
You could also try online self-help programs, which you may have to pay for or you may be able to access free through your GP. For example, there are several app-based CBT courses recommended on the NHS apps library, which you can search to find an app that may work for you.
"Always remember that phobias are not life threatening and you are bigger than your phobias. A phobia is only as big as we make it and only as small as we make it, and it can be beaten."
Some organisations across the UK run courses to help people overcome specific phobias. For example, some airline companies and airports hold courses to help people overcome their fear of flying, and some zoos help people reduce their fear of spiders or snakes. These courses vary in how they are run but many are based on hypnosis or CBT principles such as exposure therapy. Courses vary in price and availability.
If you think you might benefit from something like this, talk to your doctor about whether this would be a good source of help for you.
This information was published in March 2017. We will revise it in 2020.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.