Fear versus phobia

We’re just one week away from Halloween. Thrill seekers will surely be getting their haunted house fix tonight. But for some people, even everyday things can be overwhelmingly scary.

There’s fear — and then there’s phobia. When you’re so scared of something it invades your everyday life.

Dr. Randi McCabe, Phobia Specialist, St. Joseph’s Hospital: “They can’t really do the things they want to do because of the fear.”

Arachnophobia is one of the most common. some people are so terrified of spiders they avoid their own basements.

Dr. Randi McCabe: “People’s heart starts beating faster, their blood pressure elevates, they may start breathing faster, they may feel shaky, dizzy, light headed.”

Luckily, phobias are easily treated with exposure therapy.

The idea behind exposure therapy is to slowly increase your comfort level with whatever makes you scared. You start out with just a little bit and work your way up to getting really, really close.

Dr. Randi McCabe: “Once they become comfortable with pictures of spiders we might use rubber spiders and then move on to a real spider. We’re able to have their body habituate to the fear response so they’re no longer having that fight or flight or extreme anxiety reaction.”

For exposure therapy on steroids, we invited an eight legged friend from the reptile store.

With practice, you can even get used to a terrifying tarantula.

The flipside of arachnophobes are thrill seekers.

Dr. Randi McCabe: “They get more of a natural high when they do those types of activities than other people.”

Some people are just wired to get a kick out of scary situations.

Stephen Mitchell, Screemers Hamilton: “It’s an awesome feeling. it’s better than adrenaline. It’s unexplainable really. Even in a haunted house, when you know you’re not in real danger, your brain sends your body into fight or flight mode. After they get out, they kind of realize, hey it was fake, but still I’m terrified.”

Whether you face your fears for practice or pleasure, you get a sense of accomplishment afterward. So what are you waiting for.


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Bob says:

Pretty good scary segment ,didn’t know phobia so common.

Rowena says:

I don’t really like spiders

Candace says:

oh yuk spiders are scary at ant time of the year.

tyler says:

Spiders are freaky. Not super scary, just freaky.