A phobia is a
fear which is caused by a specific object or situation. The fear may
be by the actual presence of, or by, the anticipation of the presence
of that object or situation. Anxiety, triggered by the fear, may approach
the intensity of panic. See
experiences a strong, persistent fear that is excessive or unreasonable.
It is cued by a specific object or situation that is either present
stimulus almost always immediately provokes an anxiety response, which
may be either
a panic attack or symptoms of anxiety that do not meet criteria for
a panic attack.
is unreasonable or out of proportion, and the patient realizes this.
either avoids the phobic stimulus or endures it with severe anxiety
is under the age of 18, but must have had the symptoms for 6 months
is marked distress about this fear or it markedly interferes with the
patient's usual routines or social, job or personal functioning.
Situational Type (airplane travel, being closed in)
Natural Environment Type (thunderstorms, heights, for example)
Blood, Injection, Injury Type
Animal Type (spiders, snakes)
Other Type (situations that might lead to illness, choking, vomiting)
have similar or even the same symptom. The clinician, therefore, in
his diagnostic attempt has to differentiate against the following
disorders which he needs to rule out to establish a precise diagnosis.
frequently begin in childhood. Personal trauma and stress can sometimes
trigger a phobia in children and adults. As an example, a person who
was once trapped in a small room might later become frightened of closed
spaces. Genetic factors have also been associated with phobias. Many
people who have phobias have relatives with similar phobias or symptoms
such as fears and/or a tendency to avoid certain situations.
treatment of phobias usually has a behavior therapy focus. In some instances
drug therapy may also be tried.
and Psychotherapy [ See
Therapy Section ]:
In the safety of the therapeutic situation, people with phobias are
gradually introduced into the very situation that normally causes them
anxiety. They learn that they can control their anxiety while gaining
greater and greater exposure to their phobic situation. Cognitive or
behavior therapy may also be extremely effective when used in conjunction
with relaxation training.
people do well on medications such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
or imipramine. Also, mild tranquilizers, like benzodiazepines, can be
effective in helping people control the anxiety caused by their phobia.