Some phobias more than just seasonal fright

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Spooky ghosts, creepy spiders and slithering snakes are all typical things that come to mind when asked the question, “What are you afraid of?”

Even though Halloween has passed, the fears continue for some everyday.

According to Julia Layton at www.health.howstuffworks.com, “fear is a chain reaction in the brain that starts with a stressful stimulus and ends with the release of chemicals that cause a racing heart, fast breathing and energized muscles, among other things, also known as the fight-or-flight response.”

If a person is seriously scared too much at one time, their heart will be shocked by the amount of adrenaline created and eventually give out. Although this primarily only happens with the elderly and weak of heart, it is a possibility among the perfectly healthy.

Anyone can have a fear of anything. Whether it is the fear of Arachibutyrophobia, the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth, or something more serious, such as Acrophobia, which is the fear of heights.

To someone without a certain fear, it can be humorous. But for someone with a phobia, they could be so frightened it could really inhibit their everyday life. Many students on the Tyler Junior College campus experience test anxiety. This fear affects the ability to attend school without having an anxiety attack before taking a test.

“Most students with test anxiety are upper level students that have harder classes and whose graduation is riding on their grades,” Tracey Williams, TJC’s learning specialist, said.

Students concerned about themselves, friends or family members with phobias that interfere with everyday routines can see a specialist or TJC’s two Licensed Professional Counselors, Williams and Margaret Rapp.

“The best things you can do for someone with a fear, phobia, or problem is refer them to either Tracy Williams, or some other psychologist. Make sure though that they are Licensed Professional Counselors,” said Kenneth Luke, professor of psychology.

Williams is also the tutoring coordinator for TJC. She can incorporate learning techniques that most psychologists do not use.

Students who ingest caffeine six hours before a test can experience a higher heart rate and blood pressure due to the stimulant they have put into their bodies These are also signs of anxiety and, therefore, caffeine heightens the anxious feelings. These are the type of things Williams and Rapp look at when helping a student overcome a fear.

“We explore some of the physical components and not just the psychological ones,” Williams said.

The counseling service at TJC approaches phobias and other psychological problems in a brief and solution-focused manner. For long-term treatment, referrals are made to community resources. These resources could include psychologists, mental health doctors or even ministers and counselors.

For more information on the counseling services offered at TJC, call Tracey Williams at (903) 510-2041 or Margaret Rapp at (903) 510-2878. Appointments are scheduled for no more than one hour depending on availability.

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