If you have a phobia, seeking reliable support will increase your chances of successfully controlling and treating the condition. You may not be sure which resources are available. Here are some suggestions to help you get started.
Friends and family as a resource for phobia support
For those who are struggling with any disease, friends and family are usually very important sources of support, and phobias are no exception. If well-trained, your loved ones can help you control your fear by performing various tasks, from talking to you through guided visualization to previewing potential triggers for you.
Unless your loved one happens to be a mental health professional, he or she may not know how to best help. Many people start to avoid people with phobias or other mental health problems—not because of lack of empathy, but because they don’t know what to do.
Getting the support you need usually involves someone you love, so if you feel comfortable, please tell your family and friends about your phobia.
Once you share your phobia, you can start asking for help. Provide specific ideas and suggestions to your loved ones and let them know what they can do for you. “Can you accompany me to the doctor?” or “Do you mind if I call you after my appointment tonight?” are examples of clear and accurate requests.
Phobia Support Group
Although your friends and family will support you very much, you cannot expect them to meet all your needs. Support groups can be another important source of support. A support group is a group of people with similar concerns or obstacles. They meet regularly to discuss their concerns, share ideas and coping strategies, and communicate with each other.
Some support groups are more formal, with a moderator to guide the discussion of each meeting, usually around a topic. Others are more relaxed and free, allowing the discussion to proceed naturally.
Meet with traditional support groups. As the Internet has become a ubiquitous part of people’s lives, many network-based support groups have sprung up. Some researchers question the therapeutic value of these groups, which may or may not be the people they say. However, others believe that such groups are a good first step for people with severe social anxiety or agoraphobia, which may prevent them from participating in face-to-face support group meetings.
You can find face-to-face and online support groups through a simple Internet search. Most groups will list their membership requirements, meeting times and other important information online.
Organization and Internet resources
There are many organizations that provide resources for people with phobias and other anxiety disorders. Although most organizations have a reputation, it is always wise to be cautious. Some good organizations include:
National Mental Illness League
The National League for Mental Illness is a good starting point. You can participate in online communities, find local resources, and read a lot of useful information. You need to pay a small fee to become a member, but non-members can also get most of the information.
American Mental Health
As one of the leading non-profit mental health organizations in the United States, Mental Health America stated that its goals include improving the mental health of all people. The organization provides fact sheets and useful information, as well as support group locators.
Healthy Minds, the consumer education department of the American Psychiatric Association, is committed to providing up-to-date information and treatment options for people with mental disorders. Regularly keep information fresh with guest columnists, and a series of fact sheets help explain various diseases.
Books and magazines
Phobia is a relatively common disease, and many patients have published books about their experiences. Reading other people’s experiences can help combat the isolation experienced by many people with phobias.
Visit your local bookstore or your favorite online bookstore to find books about people with phobias. Remember, everyone’s experience is different, and what works for others may or may not work for you.
Expand your network
If you are struggling with phobias, your natural tendency may be to avoid many previous social activities. Trying to rely on only one or two people is a common and understandable reaction, but in the long run, it is bad for your relationships.
Instead, try to expand your support network. Most people are happy to help, as long as they know what to do. Seek specific help instead of making a more general request. In addition, coordinate the work between the entire network to ensure that all your needs are met.
Finally, learn to accept the “no” answer gracefully. Some people are unable or unwilling to perform certain tasks, but this does not necessarily cause friction in your friendship. Focus on other ways these people play an important role in your life.
Coping with phobia is an ongoing battle, and it requires support from various sources. Although looking for this kind of support may seem daunting at first, the challenge is worth it.