Your fears can keep you from living the life that you want. They can also be a source of stress and anxiety, which can cause other health problems. Some fears are healthy and important, for example, if you see a poisonous snake in your backyard, it’s a good thing to be afraid because that will help you run away and stay safe. But other fears are unhealthy and unnecessary. Some people develop irrational fears that are very intense and interfere with their everyday lives, such as fear of meeting new people or going to the dentist. These are called phobias and can be a sign of a serious mental health condition such as anxiety disorder or bipolar disorder.
There are many ways to overcome your fears, and many of them are very effective. Some involve talking about your fears with a trusted person like a family member or friend, while others may involve trying to confront the things that are making you feel anxious. It’s also important to find the right support to help you tackle your worries, whether it is through therapy or simply finding someone to hold your hand while you face your fears.
It’s normal to feel nervous in high pressure situations, such as before giving a speech or sitting an exam, but anxiety disorders are different. They are feelings of fear, worry and stress that persist even when the causes have gone. You can get help for anxiety from your GP or from a therapist who specialises in treating anxiety disorders, such as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT).
CBT is an effective treatment that helps you change unhelpful thoughts and behaviour that contribute to your symptoms. It can also be used in combination with other treatments, such as medication, to manage your symptoms.
Many people develop phobias in childhood, especially in the first three years of life. These fears include imaginary things such as ghosts, monsters and the dark, as well as separation from parents and large objects. The fears tend to decrease as a child grows older.
If you are concerned that your child is having difficulty managing their fears, it’s a good idea to talk with them and try to understand what they are feeling. It’s also a good idea to seek help from a professional, such as a child psychologist.
One way to help children cope with their fears is to teach them how to use relaxation techniques and breathing exercises. You can also encourage your child to write about their worries and concerns in a journal so they can express them, and you can look at the journal together to read what they have written. It’s also helpful to give children a lot of positive reinforcement when they do something brave, such as facing their fears. This can help them to become more confident and less afraid of future challenges. If you are worried that your child is having mental health issues, you can contact the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services helpline on 0800 83 85 87 or Samaritans on 116 123.