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Phobia vs Fear: The Difference Is A Relief To Know

By Dr. Ori Shinar

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Fear is a normal human emotion that we all experience from time to time but, if you feel like your fear controls your life, then it might actually be phobia vs fear. 

There is nothing shameful about having fears or phobias, but it’s important to understand the difference between phobia vs fear in order to tackle them properly. 

Here is everything you need to know about phobia vs fear.

Phobia vs Fear: Definitions 

While it can be difficult to tell when you’re in the moment, having a phobia is not the same thing as being afraid of something.

Here are some important distinctions between a phobia and a fear. 

What Is Fear? 

phobia vs fear

Fear is a human response that alerts us of a present danger. 

It can stem from both real situations and imagined or anticipated dangers.  

And in extreme cases,  it can also be a symptom of a panic disorder or even PTSD. 

Physical symptoms of fear can include trembling, sweating, or having an upset stomach. 

Many reactions to fear can be classified as either fight, flight, freeze or fawn. 

When we “fight”, our brain tries to fight off the fear, often with a physical or verbal altercation. 

The “flight” response refers to our instinct to try and escape the fearful situation. 

Conversely, the “freeze” response causes one to freeze or become quiet until the danger passes, while the “fawn” response is when one tries to please or tame whatever is causing the fear. 

What Is A Phobia? 

phobia vs fear highlight

While fear is felt mostly in the moment, a phobia is a long term, irrational, and uncontrollable fear of a certain object or concept. 

Up to 20 million Americans report having a phobia, and they can be caused by genetic factors, environmental factors, or a triggering experience. 

Common phobias include heights, vomiting, and even dentists. 

Facing your fear can put a dent in your day, but oftentimes, a phobia causes you to go out of your way to avoid encountering it. 

Ultimately, a phobia may prohibit leading a normal life, which is why it’s important to get help. 

Phobia vs Fear: Seeking Help For Phobias 

So, you’ve recognized that you are dealing with phobia vs fear and that you need help. 

That’s already a big and brave step. 

Now, it’s time to see which approach works best for you!

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

phobia vs fear chart

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a psychological treatment model that focuses on changing maladaptive thought and behavioral patterns. 

In effect, CBT treatments help the patient reframe their thoughts and change their behaviors to better cope with their personal challenges and triggers. 

Through CBT, you can learn to face your phobia rather than avoid it, as well as find healthy ways to cope with your phobia should you encounter it. 

Patients can expect to see results after several sessions with a trained professional. 

Exposure Therapy

phobia vs fear therapy

Exposure Therapy is another psychological technique designed to directly help patients face their fears. 

Psychologists create a safe, controlled environment in which the patient can “experience” their phobia. 

This safe exposure helps to reduce fear and increase avoidance. 

When it comes to phobia vs fear, if you’re unsure of which one you’re dealing with, a professional will also be able to help you figure that out.

Again, there should be no shame in experiencing fear or having a phobia, but fear should not be the emotion that leads your everyday decisions. 

Hopefully you now have some tools to better understand both concepts. 

When you feel ready to seek professional help, it is always available and encouraged. 

Fear is part of life, not your whole life!

Schedule an appointment with dr ori

Are you ready to start living fully?

To learn more about individual therapy schedule your FREE 15-minute consultation and we’ll help determine if our services are a good fit for you.

Schedule an appointment with dr ori

Are you ready to start living fully?

To learn more about individual therapy schedule your FREE 15-minute consultation and we’ll help determine if our services are a good fit for you.

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