Medical Treatment for Xenophobia
Physicians can help patients by explaining the underlying causes of anxiety, if known; teaching them anxiety-reducing measures, such as distraction, relaxation techniques, or biofeedback.
The patient may also need to be trained in anxiety-coping mechanisms such as deep breathing, analyzing situations before giving way to imploding reactions.
Xenophobia creates an “irrational and extreme fear”; hence therapists usually insist on getting to the bottom of the trigger/cause of the fear and will try to replace negative associations with positive ones. The core therapy involves adopting a method that would alter the patient’s incorrect and harmful perceptions. Therapy aims to reprogram the patient’s mind to accepting strangers as ordinary people.
This can be done in several ways – by gaining patient confidence, anger management and ability to overcome negative emotions like disappointment, fear, guilt, anxiety, and hurt.
The medication usually has a two-pronged effect. It reduces the negative emotions before panic surfaces while also lessening the symptoms of a panic attack itself. This provides an effective shield against frequent panic attacks. Precautions which need to be taken before beginning the medication course include informing the physician of pre-existing medical conditions like liver disease, allergy to benzodiazepines, history of prescription drug addiction etc. Patients also need to be wary of the possible side effects of these pills.
However, most therapists do not encourage the use of drugs and medication in treating xenophobia. There is yet no cure or treatment specific to the condition, and therefore no drug that can suitably deal with it. Drugs are only meant to assist in the treatment process; not to be depended on solely. When functioning alone, these medications only act as a ‘mask’, concealing the existing condition. Also, considering the uncertainty surrounding potential side effects, medication alone may not be the way ahead to dealing with xenophobia.