PHOBIA….is a kind of anxiety disorder in which the individual has a relentless dread of a situation, living creature, place or thing.According to some studies, approximately 30% of all people experience anxiety disorder at some time.Phobia of heights, spiders and even other people can make daily living a challenge. It is basically a irrational and excessive fear reaction.In Current Biology, a research published which suggests that tweaking exposure therapy which is a common strategy for phobias facing individuals -could make it more effective at helping people to get over their fears. It approximately affects 12.5 millions Americans, according to the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH), which is an overwhelming fear of something like be it needles, snakes, or flying . The phobia is classed as severe in nearly 22 percent of these people.
Common treatment for phobias is a Exposure therapy. In this process,patients gradually brings the to face the thing or the situation that they are afraid of. Basic aim is to replace the old fearful memory and create a new,safe & everlasting memory.The new memory is not always permanent which is a problem, and in time, for many people the bad memory resurfaces.
Now, some new researchers believe that they have found a way to make the new, good memory which is more permanent.
Good memories can be made more permanent:
By using Exposure therapy, the scientists wanted to see whether it might be more effective if the recreation of fear memories in people with arachnophobia (spider phobia) was disrupted. Normally, if a person is reminding of an object or a context renders the memory unstable as it is resaved. The resaving is termed as reconsolidation. If the creation of the memory is disrupted at this stage, the memory that is saved can be changed.
There is a theory that if a fear memory can be made weaker or deleted, it could pave the way for better treatment for anxiety disorders, but so far, older and stronger memories have been difficult to disrupt. The researchers measured the level of brain activity in the amygdala, in their experiment when people with arachnophobia were exposed to spider pictures. Amygdala is a part of brain which is strongly associated with fear. An approach that appears to decrease fear in people with life-long phobias have been developed by researchers.
According to experiment, the memory which causes fear are activated by researchers through a mini exposure to spider pictures, followed 10 minutes later with a more extensive exposure. At the same day, participants again looked at the pictures. The activity in the amygdala was significantly lower on the second day, according to results compared with a control group, suggesting a reduction in fear levels. As the level of fear decreased, so did the participants’ avoidance of spiders.
If the memory is resaved in its weakened form, the fear does not return as easily. So the researchers conclude that, even if a memory is decades old, making it unstable before providing exposure can weaken it.
The authors believe that applying this technique to therapy for people with phobias could lead to more effective therapy.
“It is striking that such a simple manipulation so clearly affects brain activity and behavior. A simple modification of existing treatments could possibly improve effects. This would mean more people getting rid of their anxieties after treatment and fewer relapses.” according to Co-author Johannes Björkstrand, of the Department of Psychology at Uppsala University.