New Orleans—If you fall off a horse,
common wisdom says to climb right back into the saddle. This time-worn adage
seems like sage advice. Now, scientists are working to understand the biological
basis for conquering fear by confronting it .
Facing fears to prevent them from worsening does appear to have psychological
validity, as therapies for phobias demonstrate. "Behavior therapy is the most
effective treatment we have for human anxiety disorders," said Mark Barad,
MD, PhD, of the University of California, Los Angeles. Through such therapy,
patients confront their fears in controlled situations to learn to get past
them. "It's used effectively to treat phobias, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive
disorder, PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder], and to a certain extent,
generalized anxiety disorder."
Friedrich MJ. Fear Factor. JAMA. 2004;291(3):289-290. doi:10.1001/jama.291.3.289