For years, psychologists and psychiatrists have tried to uncover what makes someone develop an anxiety disorder. One of the paths of study they have explored is how the brain of a person with an anxiety disorder is different from that of a healthy individual.
One thing they have learned from their study of overly anxious people is that their brains respond to stress in a different way, a way that is unhealthy.
A study from Europe was designed to reveal how the brain of a person with social phobia responds to fear-inducing objects.
The results show that over time, the effects of stressful objects diminish. The social phobics in the study became less and less reactive to the images which initially inspired a great amount of distress. Their brains grew used to the objects of fear.
These findings reinforce the use of exposure therapy to treat phobias. Exposure therapy allows people with an intense fear of an object or situation to overcome their anxiety. With a trained mental health specialist, the phobic person is taught to gradually grow more comfortable around his or her phobia. The therapist starts off exposing the phobic person to something related to the object of fear and eventually allows the person being treated to face his or her fear directly.
You can read more about the study and its implications at the link below.