Friday, 13 March 2015

Friday the 13th - fears and phobias

You may have noticed that today is Friday 13th, a day that many consider to be bad luck. But did you know that some people actually suffer from a condition known as 'paraskevidekatriaphobia' or to those of us who have a problem pronouncing such things, a fear of Friday the 13th.

Those who experience this phobia, in common with phobia sufferers in general, will go out of their way to avoid doing anything that may result in bad luck on this day. For example, they may cancel/ reschedule appointments or avoid travelling because their fear that something terrible will happen is so great.

So is this really a phobia?
In general terms, a phobia is a strong, irrational fear that something poses a danger when in fact that thing poses little or no danger in reality. 

Some of the most common phobias include: flying, spiders, snakes, driving, needles, enclosed spaces, and public speaking. A fear of Friday the 13th is less common, but it can be a phobia all the same.

Phobias are a type of anxiety disorder and it has been estimated that between 2.5 and 10 million people in the UK suffer from them. Estimates vary widely because often people don't seek help from a health professional for their phobias and instead aim to manage them themselves.

Symptoms of fear and phobia
According to people who suffer from intense fears may shake; feel confused or disoriented; and have rapid heart beats, dry mouth, intense sweating, difficulty breathing, nausea, dizziness and chest pain. Many sufferers also fear losing control, fainting or dying. 

Help for phobias
You may not need to seek help for a phobia. The general rule of thumb is that if your fear is preventing you from doing things you would like to do, or need to do, then it is something you should seek help with. For example, if you are unable to go on holiday with your family because of your fear of flying, or you are unable to get into a lift but work on the 10th floor of a tall office block, then you may consider getting help. 

Help for phobias
The most effective treatments for phobias involve behavioural techniques, which consist of exposure to the object of fear on a sliding scale. For example, if you have a fear of spiders, you may first be asked to look at pictures of them, then videos of them moving, and finally you may be asked to come into actual close contact with a spider. 

More information and help

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