The ABCs of Phobia Symptoms and Simple Remedies

Physical and emotional symptoms of phobias come in a wide array. From panic attacks to nausea, these symptoms can come on quickly, without any warning, and, quite frankly, be terrifying.

We’ve listed below some easy-to-implement steps that may help you cope with many of the more common, troublesome symptoms brought on by phobias.

What Are the Symptoms of Phobias and How Can I Manage Them?

Physical Symptoms of Phobias

 A.  Shallow or Shortness of Breath

Strategy: Focused breathing

    1. Close your eyes.
    2. Take in a slow breath, deep and gently, through your nose. Make sure it is deep enough that your abdomen moves outward.
    3. Slowly breathe out in the same manner.
    4. It may help to count slowly from 1 to 5 with each breath as you breathe in and then again as you breathe out.
    5. Do this 5 to 10 times.
    6. Keep your mind on the way you are breathing.

B.  Hyperventilating

Strategy: Paper bag breathing

    1. Close your eyes.
    2. Breathe into and out of a paper bag until your breathing is normal.

C.  Racing or Pounding Heart Associated with Panic Attack

According to John D. Day, MD, Director, Intermountain Heart Institute Heart Rhythm Specialists, Salt Lake City, UT, during bouts of severe anxiety or a panic attack, your heart is beating irregularly, which is different from a heart attack. You may have two or three beats that are fast and then a couple that are slow.

Notice: If you have ANY issues with your heart, contact your physician immediately. The information provided on this page relates to confirmed panic attacks only.

Strategy: Deep breathing

    1. Sit down, or if you can, lie down.
    2. Close your eyes.
    3. Take a slow breath through your nose. As you breathe in you should feel your abdomen rise.
    4. Slowly breathe out through pursed lips.
    5. Repeat until you feel calmer.

Strategy: Isometrics combined with breathing

    1. Take a deep breath through the mouth. Hold it.
    2. Clench the muscles of your whole body as tight as you can.
    3. Feel your body tremble from the constricting of the muscles.
    4. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds.
    5. Relax your muscles as you breathe out slowly through your nose.
    6. Breathe normally for a couple of minutes.
    7. Repeat until you feel better.

D. Chest Pain or Tightness Associated with Panic Attack

According to John D. Day, MD, Intermountain Heart Institute Heart Rhythm Specialists, Salt Lake City, UT, panic attack symptoms are similar to afib, however, the sudden onset of chest pain, chest tightness, or pounding in the chest is usually a panic attack.

Notice: If you have ANY issues with your heart, contact your physician immediately. The information provided on this page relates to confirmed panic attacks only.

Strategy: Deep breathing with mental focus

    1. Breathe in deeply.
    2. Hold it.
    3. Slowly count to 10; you will feel the tension.
    4. Relax by slowly breathing out.
    5. While slowing breathing in and out, focus on the word “relax.”

Strategy: Facial immersion

    1. Get a bowl large enough to fit around your face.
    2. Fill with water and ice cubes.
    3. Breathe in deeply.
    4. Place your face into the water. Be sure to cover your temples, nose, upper cheeks, eyes, and forehead. Hold for 15 seconds.
    5. Rise up.
    6. Breathe normally.
    7. Breathe in deeply again.
    8. Place your face into the water again.
    9. Repeat until you feel calm.

Strategy: Timed breathing

    1. Close your eyes.
    2. Focus on the way you breathe.
    3. Slowly and deeply breathe in for 3 seconds.
    4. Hold your breath for 2 seconds.
    5. Breathe out for 3 seconds.
    6. Remind yourself it is a panic attack.

E. Trembling or Shaking

Strategy: Timed, deep breathing

    1. Take a long, slow, deep breath through your nose.
    2. Hold for 10 seconds.
    3. Breath out slowly.
    4. Repeat until you stop shaking.

Strategy: Focused breathing

    1. Close your eyes.
    2. Focus on your breathing.
    3. Continue until you feel the shaking subside, which should be a few minutes.

Strategy: Change of environment

    1. Take a short walk
    2. Slowly breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth.
    3. Focus on the natural elements in your surroundings.

Strategy: Progressive muscle relaxation.

    1. Take a deep breath through the mouth.
    2. Hold it.
    3. Tighten your entire body as hard as you can.
    4. Feel your body tremble from the tightening.
    5. Keep tightening for 5 to 10 seconds.
    6. Relax your muscles as you breath out through your nose.
    7. Breathe normally for a couple of minutes.
    8. Repeat until you feel better.

F. Feeling Dizzy or Light-headed

Strategy: Seated breathing

    1. Sit down.
    2. Take slow deep breaths.
    3. Count your breaths.
    4. Repeat until you feel better.

Strategy: Paper bag breathing

    1. Breathe into a paper bag.
    2. Breathe in and out into a paper bag.
    3. Continue until you feel better.

Strategy: Singular focus

    1. Sit down.
    2. Close your eyes for a few minutes.
    3. Drink a glass of cool water. Sip, do not guzzle.
    4. Focus on one object until you feel at ease.

Strategy: Epley maneuver

    1. Sit down on the bed or even on the floor if you have to.
    2. Turn your head toward the right halfway.
    3. Lay down, keeping your head in that position.
    4. Your pillow should be underneath your shoulders only.
    5. Your head should be reclined.
    6. Hold for 30 seconds.
    7. While lying down, slowly turn your head toward the left halfway.
    8. Hold for 30 seconds.
    9. Keep your head in that position.
    10. Roll over on your left side.
    11. Hold for 30 seconds.
    12. Sit up on the left side.

 G. Churning Stomach

Strategy: Kitchen remedies

    1. Use real ginger: chew on a piece of root, eat ginger candy, drink ginger tea, or slowly sip ginger ale.
    2. Chew on a leaf of spearmint, lemon balm, lavender, or peppermint.
    3. Drink spearmint, lemon balm, lavender, or peppermint tea.
    4. Take small bites of plain bread or plain crackers.
    5. Slowly sip cold water.

Strategy: An over-the-counter antacid such as Alka Seltzer

Strategy: Loosen the clothing around the abdomen

 H. Hot or Cold Flashes

Strategy: Physical remedies

    1. Wear comfortable, light clothing.
    2. Remove excess clothing.
    3. Walk around the house.
    4. Step outside for a few minutes.
    5. Drink a glass of water.

Strategy: Mental/emotional remedies

    1. Redirect thoughts that could be causing the hot flash.
    2. Read a book.
    3. Keep a journal of what you are thinking about or dreaming about when the hot or cold flash occurs. This will help you identify your triggers.

I. Tingling Sensations

Strategy: Physical remedies

    1. Shake your arms, legs, or entire body.
    2. Take a brisk walk.
    3. Go for a light jog.
    4. Do some simple stretches.
    5. Run in place or dance to your favorite song

J. Sweating

Strategy: Herbal and other remedies

    1. Try herbal products like sage and St. John’s-wort.
    2. Apply tomato juice or apple cider vinegar to the skin.
    3. Use corn starch, baby powder, or baking soda under the arms.

Strategy: Use cool water

    1. Splash your face with cool water.
    2. If you do not want to ruin your make-up, place a cold cloth on the back of your neck.
    3. Carry baby wipes to use just in case.

K. Frozen in Fear

Strategy: Physical remedies

    1. Breathe into a paper bag.
    2. Drink a large glass of water.

Strategy: Mental/Emotional remedies

    1. Use positive affirmations. Say things out loud such as “I am calm” and “I am safe.”
    2. Visualize a space where you feel safe.

L. Diarrhea

Strategy: Dietary remedies

    1. Eat foods like toast, rice, bananas, and applesauce.
    2. Drink rice water.
    3. Eat foods with probiotics such as yogurt.
    4. Eat foods high in fiber like oatmeal, apples, beans, and citrus fruits.

Strategy: Over-the-counter medications like Pepto-Bismol or Imodium A-D

M. Trouble Swallowing

Strategy: Relaxation exercise

    1. Relax the muscles in your neck.
    2. Lean your head back as far as possible.
    3. Focus on the word “relax.”
    4. Relax the muscles in your jaw.
    5. Clench your teeth tightly.
    6. Count to 10 and feel the tension rise.
    7. Relax your jaw.
    8. Relax the muscles in the throat and tongue.
    9. Push your tongue tightly against the roof of your mouth.
    10. Count to 10 and feel the tension rise.
    11. Relax your tongue.
    12. Relax the muscles in your face and lips.
    13. Press your lips together tightly.
    14. Count to 10 and feel the tension rise.
    15. Relax your lips.

 N. Dilated Pupils

Strategy: Eye care

    1. Close your eyes for a few seconds.
    2. Wear sunglasses.

Strategy: Reduce stress level

    1. Close your eyes or focus on one particular object.
    2. Breathe slowly in through your nose and slowly out through your mouth.

O. Dry Mouth

Strategy: Basic remedies

    1. Chew sugar-free gum.
    2. Drink water.
    3. Breathe through your nose, not your mouth.
    4. Suck on ice cubes.
    5. Practice deep breathing.
    6. Sit with your back straight.

Strategy: Relaxation exercise

    1. Inhale slowly through your nose for 5 to 6 seconds.
    2. Hold for a few seconds.
    3. Slowly exhale through your mouth for 7 seconds.
    4. Repeat 10 times.

P. Gas or Burping

Strategy: Dietary considerations

    1. Eat slowly.
    2. Drink herbal teas like chamomile, anise, peppermint, and ginger.
    3. Chew on fennel seeds.
    4. Eat a spoonful of clove oil after your meal.

Strategy: Place a heating pad on your stomach

Strategy: Yoga pose

    1. Lie down and place your legs up with your feet together.
    2. Bend your knees and place your arms around your legs.
    3. Using your arms, pull your legs to your chest.
    4. While moving your legs, move your head to your knees.
    5. Hold for 20 seconds.


 

Emotional Symptoms of Phobias

A. Overwhelming Anxiety or Panic

Strategy: Thought redirection with relaxation

    1. Close your eyes.
    2. Slowly breathe through your nose.
    3. Slowly exhale out your mouth.
    4. Repeat until you feel calmer, around 5 minutes.
    5. Consider your thoughts. Turn negative thoughts into positive thoughts.
    6. Go for a walk.
    7. Keep a journal of your thoughts when you feel overwhelming anxiety.

B. Feeling Intense Need to Escape

Strategy: Focus on your surroundings

      1. Pick one item or one aroma that is calming.
      2. Breathe in through your nose slowly, counting to 5.
      3. Breathe out through your mouth slowly, counting to 6.
      4. Repeat until you feel better.

Strategy: Find something to read

    1. Read aloud
    2. Consider the meaning of the words and the pronunciation.

Strategy: Listen to music

C. Fear of Losing Control or Going Crazy

Strategy: Physical remedies

    1. Watch your favorite movie.
    2. Get some movement. Exercise or take a walk.
    3. Practice breathing slowly and deeply. Focus on your breath.

Strategy: Mental and emotional remedies

    1. Call a friend.
    2. Repeat positive, affirming phrases such as “I’m okay.”
    3. Use visualization. Imagine yourself in a calm, safe space.

D. Feeling Like You’re Going to Die or Pass Out

Strategy: Focused breathing

    1. Close your eyes.
    2. Focus on the way you breathe.
    3. Slowly and deeply breathe in for 3 seconds.
    4. Hold your breath for 2 seconds.
    5. Breathe out for 3 seconds.

E. Knowing That You’re Overreacting, but Feeling Powerless to Control Fear 

Strategy: Stay in the NOW.

    1. Pay attention to the way your body is responding.
    2. Empty your mind.
    3. Focus on the part of the body that is tense or shaky.
    4. Breathe consistently and slowly to center yourself.

Strategy: Gently tap your shoulders, cheeks, or temples

Strategy: Mental imagery

    1. Envision the part of your brain (the amygdala) that handles emotions
    2. Think of it as a blue light.
    3. Envision the blue light of that part of the brain going into other parts of your brain.

F. Fear of Dying

Strategy: Focus on thought pattern

    1. Close your eyes.
    2. Pay attention to your thoughts.
    3. Do not judge your thoughts.
    4. Just see if you notice a pattern.
    5. Focus on an object or your breathe while observing your body, feelings, or thoughts.

Strategy: Focus on singular object such as a candle

    1. Only think about the flame of the candle.
    2. If your mind begins to wander to other things, go back to the flame.

Strategy: Nature immersion

    1. Take a walk along a nature path or in the woods.
    2. Pay attention to the things you see and hear around you.

G. Exhibiting extreme avoidance behavior such as refusing to go to the doctor even if  you are very ill.

Strategy: Thought process with mental imagery

    1. Close your eyes.
    2. Listen to your thoughts.
    3. Realize the reasons you are avoiding the situation.
    4. Now, consider what can happen if you avoid the situation.
    5. Push the thoughts that are hindering you to the back of your mind.
    6. Envision the negative thoughts disappearing.
    7. Allow the thoughts of a good outcome for the thing you are avoiding.

Strategy: “Phone a friend”

    1. Talk with a friend regarding your fear.
    2. Ask them to go with you for support.

 


RESOURCES:

Breathing Problems
https://www.nhsinform.scot/healthy-living/mental-wellbeing/anxiety-and-panic/how-to-deal-with-panic-attacks
https://www.happify.com/hd/5-ways-to-stop-panic-in-its-tracks/
Racing or Pounding Heartbeat
https://www.insider.com/how-can-i-lower-my-heart-rate-from-anxiety#:~:text=Participating%20in%20relaxation%20methods%20such,’%20response%2C%22%20says%20Isaacson
https://www.gracepointwellness.org/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=35085&cn=1
https://www.everydayhealth.com/atrial-fibrillation/symptoms/heart-palpitations-is-it-afib-or-panic-attack/
Chest Pain or Tightness
https://www.everydayhealth.com/atrial-fibrillation/symptoms/heart-palpitations-is-it-afib-or-panic-attack/
https://my.happify.com/hd/5-ways-to-stop-panic-in-its-tracks/
https://www.priorygroup.com/blog/how-to-relieve-chest-pain-felt-during-panic-attacks
Trembling or Shaking
https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/how-to/how-to-stop-shaking-when-you-feel-nervous/
https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety-shaking#techniques-and-home-remedies
Feeling Dizzy or Lightheaded
https://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/symptoms/dizziness
https://www.healthline.com/health/treatments-for-dizziness#other-options
A Churning Stomach
https://www.healthline.com/health/nervous-stomach#remedies
https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/anxiety-nausea#coping
Hot or Cold Flashes
https://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/symptoms/hot-and-cold-flashes
Tingling Sensations
https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety-numbness#coping-tips
Sweating
https://www.sweatblock.com/anxiety-sweating-survival/
Frozen in Fear
https://www.happify.com/hd/5-ways-to-stop-panic-in-its-tracks/
Diarrhea
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/anxiety-diarrhea#treatment
https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-get-rid-of-diarrhea-fast