Self-help advice for phobias 

Each phobia is different and no single self-help programme will work for everyone. You may decide to use your own self-help strategy, or get help from a mental health specialist, such as a psychologist.

A self-help programme could include:

  • lifestyle changes
  • a course of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
  • attending a self-help group
  • using exposure therapy (see below) to overcome your fear
  • a combination of these

Lifestyle changes

Making some simple adjustments to your lifestyle may help reduce the symptoms of a phobia, such as panic attacks. This could include:

Exposure therapy (desensitisation)

Exposure therapy (desensitisation) involves gradually increasing the length of time you're exposed to your phobia.

For example, if you have agoraphobia (a fear of open spaces and public places), you might start by going outside your house for a very short period of time, before gradually increasing the length of time you spend outside and the distance you travel from your house.

Exposure therapy can be a very effective way of enabling you to cope with your anxiety.

Other self-help techniques

Other self-help techniques include:

  • relaxation techniques  a series of physical exercises that may help you relax and control your breathing
  • visualisation  combines relaxation and breathing techniques with mentally visualising how you will successfully deal with a situation that could cause anxiety
  • self-help groups  a useful way of meeting others with similar experiences and sharing ways of coping

Depression Alliance supports a national network of self-help groups across England and has details of groups in your area.

Read more about relaxation tips to relieve stress and dealing with panic attacks.

Computerised CBT

FearFighter is a computer software programme that you can access online. It's recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and has been shown to be an effective self-help method for treating panic disorder and phobia.

Reading Well Books on Prescription

Reading Well Books on Prescription is an early intervention service to help people understand and manage their mental health. The agency provides a core book list of accredited titles recommended by healthcare professionals that covers a range of common mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, phobias and eating disorders.

Media last reviewed: 01/04/2014

Next review due: 01/04/2016

Page last reviewed: 24/02/2014

Next review due: 24/02/2016