Study Helps People Face Fears

By: Marcus Washington
By: Marcus Washington

February 20, 2006

Anxiety disorders are one of the most common metal disorders that many people suffer from and that is the motivation behind two new studies at the University of Virginia.

Nearly 25% of all people globally deal with some type of anxiety disorder. Whether it is being over-compulsive, the fear of being in large crowds, or the fear of spiders, it is a difficult thing to deal with sometimes, and may even cause you to alter your life.

"So it's not really whether or not you've have a panic attack," said Bethany Teachman, Clinical Psychologist at UVa. "It's about what that attack means to you and how you change your life because of it."

Teachman is clinical psychologist at the UVa and says when teaching how to deal with the anxiety, you must first relax. Then start thinking about what causes the fear. Deal with the feeling that is associated with the causes the fear is your next step, then take control of the situation. These are things the studies at UVa are trying to do.

"In a very supportive, slow, gradual way, we'll help them re-enter those situations so that they can kind of get their life back," said Teachman.

Getting your life back can never start too early. Another study is looking at children ages 9 to 11 who live with the fear of spiders.

"What that would involve is coming in probably for a two hour visit with other children who are actually also high in fear," said graduate Clinical Psychology student, Shannan Smith-Janik.

Dealing with fears at a young age is believed to help with other fears that could come up in the future.

"It's kind of like learning a tool set or taking away a box of tools that you can use later when another fear arises, should that occur," said Smith-Janik.

"One of the best things a person can do is actually try to push themselves little by little to kind of face the things that they are afraid of," said Teachman.

The two studies at the University of Virginia are dealing with panic attacks and the fear of spiders in children aged 9 to 11-years-old. If you would like more information about the studies, you can visit their website at, or you can call them at 434-243-5555. Your call will be confidential.

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