News and Research

Phobias Make Feared Objects Appear Greater, More Persistent

The more afraid a person is of a spider, the bigger that individual perceives the spider to be, new research suggests. Understanding how a phobia affects the perception of feared objects can help clinicians create effective treatments for people who wish to overcome their phobias. (Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 2012; 26 (1): 20) Read more. 

Stress Hormones Used to Treat Phobias

A study published recently found that acrophobic subjects who took cortisol an hour before a session of exposure therapy were able to tame their clinical fear of heights better than those who took a placebo. (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online March 28, 2011) Read more.

Fear of Spiders and Snakes Not Innate 

Researchers at the Karolinska Institute have learned that although most people are afraid of spiders and snake, they aren't born afraid of them, and can learn these fears very quickly. (Current Directions in Psychological Science, February 2003; 12:1; 5–9) Read more.

Drug Reduces Increase of Fear

A traumatic experience favors the persistence of fear associated with an aversive stimulus, known as fear conditioning. Scientists have suppressed that effect in mice with a single dose of 7,8-Dihydroxyflavone, a drug that boosts the ability to acquire new emotional behaviors. The drug could be used as an effective treatment of PTSD, panic, and phobia disorders in humans. (American Journal of Psychiatry, published online December 1, 2010) Read more. 

Acupuncture Calms Phobic Dental Patients

A study of a small sample of dentists in the United Kingdom reports that acupuncture, successfully calmed anxious patients suffering from odontophobia (extreme fear and anxiety of visiting a dentist). The participants had suffered from this condition for between two and 30 years. (Acupuncture in Medicine, March 2010; 28:3-5)

Phobia Innoculation Possibility

Researchers at the University of Hiroshima in Japan found that following an injection of lidocaine in the cerebellum, fish taught to fear a light flashed in their eyes showed no fear and were unable to learn to become afraid again. Because goldfish brains have similarities with those of humans and other mammals, the research suggests that further study may lead to treatment for phobias. (Behavioral and Brain Functions, 23 March 2010; 6:20)

Effects of D-Cyclosporine on Phobias

The results of an fMRI study at conducted at numerous U.S. universities suggest that during initial phobic symptom provocation, D-cyclosporine enhances fear extinction and facilitates exposure therapy. (CNS Spectrums, 2009; 14(10):556-571)
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One-Session Phobia Treatments Effective for Children

The results of a Swedish study show that 55 percent of children who underwent an intensive one-session treatment were freed from their phobias.
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Neuroscientists Find Fear’s Location in Brain

For the first time neuroscientists have pinpointed the location of the neurons responsible for fear conditioning in the mammalian brain: the basolateral nucleus in the amygdala. Fear conditioning is considered a model system for understanding specific phobias and other anxiety disorders. (PLoS One, 2009; 4(7):e6156)
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Lupus Patients Prone to Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety and mood disorders are more common in women with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) than in the general population, according to results of a new study. Researchers found that panic disorder, specific phobia, OCD, major depressive disorder, and bipolar I disorder were significantly more common among SLE subjects than among other white women. In contrast, generalized anxiety disorder and dysthymic disorder were significantly less common in this population. (Arthritis and Rheumatism, June 2009; 61:822-829)
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Biochemistry May Hold Keys to Blocking Fears

A receptor for glutamate, the most prominent neurotransmitter in the brain, plays a key role in the process of unlearning or forgetting, according to researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. The research results could help scientists develop new drug therapies to treat phobias and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). (Journal of Neuroscience. 2009; 29(12): 3676-3684)
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Breathing Technique Reduces Anxiety Related to Blood-Injection-Injury Phobia

For individuals with blood-injection-injury (BII) phobia, a novel biobehavioral approach aimed at regulating breathing may lessen anxiety, new research suggests. (Medscape Medical News) 
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