Spiders, heights, clowns, small spaces and crowded places – you name it and there’s someone, somewhere that doesn’t like it. Or even worse, has a chronic phobia of it.
But now, scientists claim they’ve found a cure to solving these common fears.
Researchers discovered exposing people to their fears reduces their anxiety – if it’s timed with the exact beat of their hearts.
The findings, published in the Psychosomatic Medicine journal, could form the basis of a new treatment for irrational fears, the Daily Mail report .
Current treatment is often prolonged and involves a graded exposure to stimuli, according to the NHS.
Professor Hugo Critchley, chair of psychiatry at Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) and principle investigator, said: “Our work shows how we respond to our fears can depend on whether we see them at the time our heart beats, or between heartbeats.”
The same researchers had previously revealed how bodily arousal signals that occur with each individual heartbeat can change the emotional impact of potential threats.
For example, when experienced during a heartbeat, they can appear greater.
In this proof-of-concept clinical trial, a computerised exposure therapy for spider phobia was combined with online measurements of heartbeats.
For one group of patients, pictures of spiders were presented in-time with heartbeats.
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While for another patient group, pictures of spiders were presented in-between heartbeats.
A third control group saw spiders randomly in the therapy sessions.
Although there was some improvement among all patients, individuals exposed to spiders in-time with their own heartbeats showed a greater reductions in self-reported fear of spiders, anxiety levels and their physiological responses to spiders.
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These improvements were also shown to depend on differences in how well an individual patient can accurately feel their own heart beating in their chest, suggesting a further way of tailoring the treatment to benefit each patient.
Source : Chroniclelive