Anxiety: Fear or phobia? – How to tell when a fear crosses the line, and what to do about it

By: Davine Holness

how to cure a phobia

Phobias tend to be of things that posed a threat to our ancestors

Fear is a basic part of human existence. Everyone has something that scares them or causes anxiety. Fear is adaptive: it evolved to protect us from harm. However, once fear reaches a certain extreme level, it does more harm than good. That is where phobia comes in.

A phobia is a fear of a specific object or circumstance. It is a fear that causes enormous anxiety. What differentiates it from regular fear is that it is usually irrational causes marked impairment in functioning or marked distress. Fear is inconvenient at worst, whereas phobia gets in the way of one’s life.

On the bright side, it is possible to overcome the crippling fear and anxiety that accompany a phobia. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has brought us a highly effective treatment: exposure therapy. This can be daunting because it encourages the individual to expose himself or herself to what scares them the most. However, this is done in gradual steps, and ideally with a therapist helping the individual relax and reassess his or her thoughts. For instance, a patient with an overwhelming fear of flying might spend the first therapy session simply imagining being on a plane. Step by step, the patient works his or her way up to taking a ride on a plane. Facing your fears helps you learn not to associate the stimulus with the immediate fear that is your usual response. With time and hard work, exposure has been shown to free people from the shackles of their phobias, fears and anxiety.

If you are suffering from intense fear, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help. Feel free to contact the Bergen County, New Jersey and Manhattan offices of Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy, where psychotherapists, psychologists and psychiatrists with years of experience in cognitive behavioral therapy and other therapeutic techniques can help you conquer your fears. Call (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment.

Visit for more information.


Fader, J. (2014, May 5). Three Ways to Face Your Phobia. Psychology Today. Retrieved May 28, 2014


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s