Today was an interesting day. I was ordering my favorite morning drink, a soothing insatiable green tea, which is part of my morning ritual—walk the dog—get Starbucks—head to work. While waiting on line to order, a young lady in front of me thought she saw a spider sashay across the counter, which caused her to jump back—almost knocking me over—as she let out a high pitched scream that seemed to go on forever—but it didn’t. The scream caused everyone in the coffee shop to freeze, not knowing what in the world was going on. The poor Starbuck employee’s stood by with severe shock on their faces, as the manager quickly exited his office, running towards the commotion. He asked what was happening—his employees shrugged in confusion—pointing toward the lady. The lady, who at this point realized she, in fact, had mistaken an odd shaped dust ball for a spider was mortified. It didn’t help matters that the manager clearly thought she was crazy, as she tried to explain herself. In any event, it was extremely clear to me that this poor woman suffered from Arachnophobia—a fear of spiders. She was trembling, sweating and completely apologetic as she waited for her beverage to be made. I reached out and assured her that everything was fine and that I understood what she was feeling—I offered her my help as a neurofeedback therapist.
Here’s an interesting fact that countless people are unaware of, phobias affect an estimated 19.2 million adults in the USA and are twice as common in women as in men, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Truth be told, feeling fear is normal—we all fear something. On the other hand, phobias are much different than a fear and are distinguished by three main categories. The first is Agoraphobia, the fear of being alone in open spaces. This type of fear can cause people to deter from engaging in any kind of social activity. They are for the most part reclusive. The second is Social, which is when people feel excessive self-consciousness while interacting with others and fear being humiliated. People like this often come off as quiet and shy. They fear being rejected and or offending people. Generally, people develop this kind of phobia in their early teens. This phobia is also a pre-cursor to Agoraphobia. The third is Specific in which people have a specified phobia related to a person, place, thing or situation in which a person feels an uncontrollable amount of fear, like fear of spiders (Arachnophobia). These kinds of phobias are often developed at a young age. When a person’s phobia is triggered they will have physiological reactions leading to symptoms that cause sweating, racing heartbeat and difficulty breathing. If left untreated, phobias will overcome and dismantle a person’s life.
Unfortunately, many people have a vast misunderstanding when it comes to phobias and those who suffer from them—labeling people as irrational and overly dramatic—like the Starbucks manager perceived that poor lady. In actuality, it’s a real severe psychological problem that requires professional help. As a neurofeedback therapist, I’ve helped many people who suffer from this type of anxiety and fortunately I have been able to help them. By locating the part of the brain that’s causing the disruption, a method we call brain mapping, we are able to correct the person’s brain waves, regulating specific aspects of the brain to their desired manner. This helps them remain calm and focused during situations that may trigger their phobia, causing them to have anxiety/panic attacks. With that being said neurofeedback therapy is one of the fastest and most effective ways to teach people how to help themselves—it’s a method of treatment that sadly not many people are aware of and not many insurance company’s covers. If you would like further information regarding this method of treatment, please feel free to contact me. To read more about phobias and the many types that exist, please visit Phobia List—over 500 phobias are documented.
Dr. Elena Eustache is a specialist in Neurofeedback Therapy, with a PhD in Psychology and Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Dr Elena Eustache helps her patients reach their full potential so that they can live the life they’ve always dreamed of.