Is fear healthy? Here’s when it becomes a problem

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Right from spiders to heights to cockroaches to water, there are many common fears. It is considered healthy to have some fears. For instance, if you didn’t have the fear of getting run over by a car, you wouldn’t look left and right before crossing a road. If you didn’t have a fear of failing an exam, you wouldn’t sit and study for it. But fear can become a problem. Excessive fear is considered to be unhealthy. Let’s find out all about fear and how it affects us.

Health Shots consulted Shefali Vaidya, clinical psychologist, Apollo Spectra Mumbai, to find out all about fear and how to overcome it.

Excessive fear is unhealthy. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Fear causes a powerful physical response in body

We know that fear is felt in the head, but it also causes a powerful physical response in the body, says Vaidya.

  • Your brain’s amygdala, which is a little structure in the centre, begins to function as soon as you perceive fear.
  • Your neurological system becomes alert, which activates the terror reaction in your body.
  • Cortisol and adrenaline, two stress hormones, get released.
  • Your heart rate and blood pressure rise.
  • Your respiration quickens.
  • Blood rushes out from your heart and into your extremities, altering even your blood flow, which makes it simpler for you to start punching people or running for your life.

Signs you have too much fear

Fear becomes a problem when it becomes too much and takes the shape of an anxiety disorder. This in turn interferes with your normal life.

Physical indicators to watch out for:

• Higher heart rate
• Breathing more quickly or getting breathless
• Chills and sweat
• Shaking muscles

Why do some people get scared of things easily?

If you are jumpy or jittery or startle easily, it’s because your body is overstimulated. It might develop hypersensitive senses and hyperactivity. The expert says that many people with excessive fear experience heightened levels of anxiety all the time.

You can overcome fear with easy tips. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Tips to overcome fear

1. Face your fear

Facing your fear is the only way to overcome it, suggests the expert. Avoiding your concerns doesn’t help you go forward; it only makes you nervous. However, be kind to yourself and only act in ways that seem secure to you. If you realise that your anxiety is increasing, take a pause and look for anything relaxing or consoling to see or do. You can try to explore your fear once again, taking breaks as necessary, if it feels safe afterwards.

2. Take help of a therapist

It’s important to keep in mind that therapists may be quite helpful in helping you work through avoidance techniques if you find it difficult to deal with excessive fear on your own. It is very crucial to engage with a therapist if you have gone through trauma (how to deal with trauma patient) to establish a secure setting where you may confront your fear.

3. Practise strategies for mindfulness meditation

You can practise strategies for mindfulness meditation if your fear is more manageable. All you have to do is take a seat quietly and focus on the now. Recognise dread or fear as it manifests. Try to be curious and take a note of the fear. Observe how it makes you feel physically and take note of any related thoughts. Instead of getting caught up in the narrative or trying to change it, try to observe it as it is. And when you need to, stop and focus on anything unimportant, like your breath or your hands on your lap.

So, don’t give into your fear and lose control of your life!

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