Are you afraid of the dark? Maybe you can’t stand being in a tight, dark area. You could even be afraid of guns, spiders, heights, water, etc. There are lots of fears that consume our everyday lives and make many of us incapable of living full, happy lives because of these fears that exist in the mind. Being afraid of the dark or having any type of fear, is a natural feeling and many more people experience extreme fears than are willing to admit. It can start as a child after watching a scary movie or visiting a haunted house, or may stem from a number of other painful or harrowing experiences from your childhood. Unfortunately, though, fears don’t always become resolved as you age.
In fact, many people continue to suffer from phobias long into their adult years. If you are one of those people and struggle with small spaces and a fear of the dark long after you’ve reached your adult years, there isn’t a lot you can do to overcome those fears without help.
Therapies for Phobias
Many people will suggest seeing a therapist work out a resolution to your fear, however, because the fear is often debilitating, therapists have only developed a few methods to deal with it.
- Exposure Therapy: One of the most widely used therapies for a phobia is immersion or exposure therapy. This therapy works by exposing and re-introducing the person to his biggest fear and helping him to overcome the fear. This works by examining the reason the fear exists in the first place and then developing a fear hierarchy, which works to overcome your least fearful experience working up to your worst fear, step by step until you can finally stand up and face the fear head-on.
Even though this process can be effective, it is not the best therapy available because it is painful, sometimes cruel, and unnecessary. Sometimes this kind of therapy can actually make things worse and you may begin to associate the fear you have with pain.
- Self-Help Therapy: For self-help therapy, there are many things you can do, from exposure type therapy to a home study program. These programs can help you break the tie between anxiety and the thing you fear. Many people would recommend at-home therapies overexposure therapies because of the additional psychological effects that exposure therapy can have on individuals.
- Talk Therapy: You may have tried some of these therapies are simply struggling to find something that actually works. There is a third therapy that has been known to work on those who struggle with tight spaces or fear of the dark. This type of treatment is referred to simply as the talk treatment. You can visit a therapist or psychologist to talk over your problems and work through them.
- There are specialists that you can see for the exact condition you’re suffering from, such as arachnophobia (fear of spiders) or achluophobia (fear of the dark). These specialists have been trained to work specifically with your condition, even when your fear is severe.
- Behavioral Therapy: Still others will suggest that behavioral therapy has seen the greatest positive results when it comes to dealing with a fear of the dark. This therapy uses some of the techniques, such as exposure and talks therapy combined with a calming therapy to help you slowly overcome your fear, smaller doses at a time. This works by helping you to replace your fear with thoughts of peace, relaxation, and uses proven breathing techniques to help you get out of that stressful situation.
The second method of cognitive behavioral therapy works to desensitize the brain to the stimulation it receives when fear is manifest. Some therapists don’t agree with these methods because they believe that in order to truly help the individual, sensitivity to feelings and emotions is key.
There are also medications that can be used to help overcome phobias. They are often anti-anxiety medications that work as a mask for the problems that exist, doing nothing to actually solve the problem.
Regardless of the therapy, you choose to pursue, know that there is hope. Whether you can finally go to sleep at night with the light off, or just feel okay letting your husband keep a safe complete with gun, in your bedroom, there is so much to be gained by pursuing a therapy that allows you to have peace of mind.