What is Desensitization Therapy used to treat?

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Desensitization therapy

The phrase Desensitization therapy may refer to two dissimilar kinds of treatments that might be recommended when people have reactions to matters or circumstances. One of the desensitization therapy is a behavioral psychological method and the other deals with the area of allergy. While one therapy treats phobias, the other treats severe allergies. One is known as systematic desensitization and the other is known as Immunotherapy. Both of them use slow, steady, incremental introduction to decrease severe reactions to these matters. When a person feels anxious in a situation, he can be taught to not to feel anxious by using a technique called desensitization. The idea of this desensitization portion of the manual is to teach the patient to do something that is mismatched with the anxiety they feel in the target situation. In other words, the purpose of desensitization is to teach a person to relax in the target situation by giving repeated experiences of imagining different situations that are related to the target situation while they are relaxed.

 

What is systematic desensitization?

Systematic desensitization is a kind of behavioral therapy used in the field of psychology to help successfully conquer phobias and other anxiety problems. Systematic desensitization is a therapeutic intervention that reduces the learned connection between anxiety and objects or situations that are characteristically fear-creating. The primary goal of systematic desensitization is to reduce or eliminate fears or phobias that sufferers find to be distressing or that damage their capability to administer their standard of living. By substituting a new response to a feared situation, a trained contradictory response of relaxation which is incompatible with an anxious response, phobic reactions are reduced or eliminated. Systematic desensitization is occasionally called “graduated exposure therapy”. Particular phobias are a group of mental sickness frequently treated through the behavior therapy or cognitive-behavioral process of systematic desensitization. Those people who have irrational fears of an object, such as height, dogs, snakes, and close spaces tend to avoid it. Given that, escaping from the phobic entity reduces their anxiety, patients’ behavior to reduce fear is reinforced through negative or unconstructive strengthening. Systematic desensitization is a behavior therapy method. Many organizations are there for behavior therapists all over the world. The World Association for Behavior Analysis provides a certification in behavior therapy.

 

Who introduced systematic desensitization?

Systematic desensitization, the behavior modification method, is based on the principles of classical conditioning and is developed by Joseph Wolpe in 1950s.

 

What are the managing tactics in a systematic desensitization?

The therapist educates the patient cognitive strategies to manage the anxiety, before exposure. This is essential, as it offers the patient ways of controlling the fear, rather than allowing it to develop until it becomes agonizing.

  •  Relaxation methods, such as meditation is a type of managing or coping plan. Those patients who have serious nervousness that leads to breathing problems will be trained to focus on their breathing or to think about happy state of affairs.
  •  One more way of relaxation is cognitive review of imagined results. The therapist will encourage patients to inspect what they imagine about the occurrence when exposed to the phobic object. This permits them to distinguish their disastrous visions and contrast them with the actual results. For instance, a patient with a snake phobia will understand that they imagine any snake they come across would coil itself around their neck and strangle them, when this would not actually happen. These patients need to see that not all snakes are large and that most snakes are absolutely safe so that they can get over their fear. Studies have confirmed the effectiveness of this method in assisting the patients in lessening identical animal phobias.

 

What is progressive exposure?

One more constituent of systematic desensitization is gradual exposure to the feared objects or situations. For instance, for a person with snake phobia, the therapist will start asking the patient to develop a fear hierarchy, recording the comparative repulsiveness of different kinds of exposure. For instance, seeing a picture of a snake in a newspaper might be rated 5 of 100, while having quite a few live snakes crawling on one’s neck would be the most fearful experience likely. Once the patient had practiced their relaxation method, the therapist would then give him the photograph and help them relax. The patient would then be offered more and more unlikable situations, such as a poster of a snake, a small snake in a box in the other room, a snake in a clear box in view, touching the snake, etc. In the each step of the progression, the patient is desensitized to the phobia through the use of these managing methods. Over a period of time, the patient may feel that nothing bad may happen to him, and as a result, the fear may slowly quench.

 

What is desensitization therapy for allergies?

In desensitization therapy for allergies, the allergist injects the person with tiny amounts of the allergen (“allergy shots”) regularly over a period of three to five years. Relief is generally apparent in about a year. Roughly, 80 percent of people who have seasonal allergies respond to desensitization, bringing their hypersensitivity reactions within tolerable parameters or eliminating them completely. Desensitization is also greatly effectual for allergies to pet dander (especially cats), molds, and insect stings. Desensitization may be a therapeutic alternative for severe food allergies. Allergen immunotherapy acts like a vaccination. Actually, the new term for desensitization & Immunotherapy is “Allergy vaccination”. With the body’s exposure to tiny, injected amounts of a specific allergen, in gradually increasing doses, the body gains immunity to the allergen(s) to which a person is allergic. This means that when that person comes across these allergens in the future, he/she will have a reduced or very minor allergic response and fewer symptoms.

 

How is desensitization therapy for allergies performed?

In the initial stage of allergen immunotherapy, the first injection will have of a small amount of the least concentrated vaccine. Each week, the patient receives a slightly more concentrated allergen vaccine injection. The rate at which the concentration is increased depends on the patient’s degree of sensitivity. Generally, a patient will reach the top (maintenance) dose about four to six months after injections are begun. The maintenance dose is then given every one to two weeks, and later, the interval is extended to every three or four weeks. Allergen immunotherapy works by changing the abnormal immune responses that cause allergy. Protective antibodies, similar to those made in response to other vaccines, play a role in the beneficial results of allergen immunotherapy. Studies showing the effectiveness of immunotherapy show about 8 out of 10 allergy patients benefit from immunotherapy. Immunotherapy significantly reduces patient’s asthma symptoms, airway hyperactivity, and medication requirements.

 

What are the side-effects of immunotherapy?

Hardly ever, a patient may have a more serious allergic reaction to Immunotherapy resulting in asthma symptoms or anaphylaxis:

  •  Cough
  •  Wheezing
  •  Shortness of breath.
  •  Sneezing
  •  Watery nasal discharge
  •  Itchy eyes
  •  Swelling in the throat
  •  wheezing or tightness in the chest
  •  nausea
  •  Dizziness.

Some people experience temporary discomfort with the shots. Most people who undergo desensitization treatment have few side effects; however, find the long-term benefit of reduced hypersensitivity reaction that greatly improves their quality of life.

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