Anna Karen stars as Aunt Sal in EastEnders in 2017
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Recently opening up on the podcast, Lads, Dads and a Couple of Beers, the 27-year-old actor spoke of his crippling phobia of being sick. The NHS explains that a phobia is an overwhelming and debilitating fear of an object, place, situation, feeling or animal. Often sparked after a person has an exaggerated or unrealistic sense of danger about a situation or object, phobias can become so severe that it causes the person a great deal of anxiety and can lead to restricting their everyday lives – which is what Jamie’s has come to.
“I’ve never really spoken about it, but I’ve got a real phobia about being sick, called emetophobia,” he detailed.
“I really suffer quite bad with that, and it affected me in so many ways. I didn’t want to go out, I didn’t want to shake people’s hands.
“It became a thing about germs and I got quite OCD about things like that.
“I didn’t want to be in busy environments where there were a lot of people.
“It just made me feel really anxious.”
The actor went on to say that his overwhelming fears developed into bouts of anxiety which have “stopped him from living his life”.
Despite seeking help and trying to overcome his fears, the star went on to say that he can never see himself “letting it go” completely.
Jamie continued to say: “I will never ever be OK about being sick ever, but I just get to a point where I cope with it, and just deal with it the best way I can.
“I can understand it now. I’ve got a bag of tools I can use to manage it and understand there are going to be times when I’m not going to be in the environment where I want to be all the time.
“I suppose I learnt to manage it the best way I could at the time, and I am going back five or six years ago now.
“I was just really selfish and I wouldn’t put myself in a situation that would make me feel unsafe.”
The NHS states that a phobia is a type of anxiety disorder, but individuals may not experience symptoms until they come into contact with the source of the phobia.
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In some severe cases, even thinking about the source of a phobia can make a person start to feel anxious or panic – known as anticipatory anxiety.
Although phobias affect everyone differently, the most common symptoms experienced by people who come into contact with their phobias include:
- Unsteadiness, dizziness and lightheadedness
- Increased heart rate or palpitations
- Shortness of breath
- Trembling or shaking
- An upset stomach.
There are two specific types of phobia: specific or simple phobias or complex phobias. The former centre around a particular object, situation or activity and are often first developed during childhood. The latter tends to be more debilitating and is associated with a deep-rooted fear or anxiety about a particular situation or circumstance.
Common examples of simple phobias include:
- Animal phobias – such as dogs, spiders, snakes or rodents
- Environmental phobias – such as heights, deep water and germs
- Situational phobias – such as visiting the dentist or flying
- Bodily phobias – such as blood, vomit or having injections
- Sexual phobias – such as performance anxiety or the fear of getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
Whereas the most common complex phobias tend to be agoraphobia – a fear of being in situations where escape might be difficult, and social phobia – an overwhelming fear of social situations.
Due to the nature of a phobia, individuals may not always get them formally diagnosed. A person will sometimes choose to live with a phobia, taking great care to avoid the object or situation they’re afraid of.
But for those whose lives become increasingly difficult as a result of the phobia, treatment from an expert in behavioural therapy might be needed to help them cope.
In most cases phobias can be treated and cured. For simple phobias, gradual exposure of the trigger object, animal, place or situation can help to desensitise you. For complex phobias, treatment such as counselling, psychotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) may be needed to change the way you think and behave.
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