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Self-help - 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

Making some simple changes to your lifestyle may help reduce the symptoms of a phobia, such as panic attacks.

This could include:

Exposure therapy (desensitisation)

Exposure therapy 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 help you relax and control your breathing
  • visualisation – combines relaxation and breathing techniques with mentally visualising how you'll 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

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

Mental health apps

The NHS apps library has a number of mental health apps and tools you may find useful.

Page last reviewed: 26 October 2018
Next review due: 26 October 2021