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Ask Dr. Ed Wilfong Your Own Question
Dr. Ed Wilfong
Dr. Ed Wilfong, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1528
Experience:  Twenty-five years treating all ages; Specialities: psychopharmacology & diagnosis, MMPI-2, testing.
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I have a phobia, it really is mild now I think but I probably

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I have a phobia, it really is mild now I think but I probably am not over it.
I am afraid of tornadoes. I live in Oklahoma about 35 mi S/E of Joplin where that historically deadly tornado went through in May. I became really scared of tornadoes after that; had panic attacks during warnings and in one case during a severe thunderstorm (couldn't sleep).

When Hurricane Irene hit the East coast, I was very worried because my sister lives in Maryland, but I didn't have another panic attack like during tornado warnings.

Now feeling much better because we bought a storm shelter and keep a weather radio in the bedroom at night to wake us if there are any warnings out. However, If I am out on the road I am still afraid if there are bad storms and I still stay awake occasionally during thunderstorms. I still watch the weather an awful lot.

I've had this phobia about 5 months. Since it is less severe than it was initially, I am thinking I shouldn't bother seeking therapy for it. What is your opinion?

Dr. Ed Wilfong :

I was a northwest person and went to school in Tornado Alley. The first night, there was a tornado watch. I spent all evening getting soaking wet, until enough people laughed at me and asked me what I was doing. The point is, I think you are supposed to be afraid. This is natural response to a real threat. You may be a little more fearful than some, but Joplin was Horrible. Let some time pass and if you do not alter your life much because of this, let it cool down. You don't sound obcessed. The thing with fears, is they only have to happen once to have a traumatic impact. Then everytime you are vigilent, you fear is reinforced as in your head, somehow you just avoided tragedy, when really your fear did nothing. Try to grasp that concept and you should keep getting better. I have to sign off, but will respond tomorrow if any questions.

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