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Phobia Facts

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a phobia is defined as: An exaggerated usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation.

What causes a Phobia?

Phobias can be caused by a stressful event or situation, a frightening event, or a parent or household member having a phobia that a child becomes aware of. Many phobias appear because of something that happened to the individual early in life; it is rare for a phobia to start after the age of 30.

The Different Types of Phobias

Phobias can be broken down into the fowling three categories:

    • Specific (also known as Simple) Phobias
      • Animals: dogs, spiders, snakes, birds, etc.

Medical: blood, doctors, dentists, needles, or other medical objects

Natural Environment: storms, water, or other natural objects

Situational: Heights, driving, elevators, cooking or other specific situations

  • Social Phobia
  • Agoraphobia

Click here for an alphabetical list of all known phobias

Symptoms of Phobia

Common Symptoms People with Phobias Experience:

  • A feeling of uncontrollable anxiety when exposed to the source of your fear.
  • An overwhelming feeling to avoid the fear at all costs.
  • The inability to function normally because of anxiety
  • Often there’s a knowing that the fear being experienced is extremely
    exaggerated but there is nothing the person can do about it.
  • Physical as well as psychological reactions, including sweating, rapid heartbeat,
    difficulty breathing, a feeling of panic and intense anxiety
  • In some cases, there is extreme anxiety just thinking about the fear

When to Seek Help for a Phobia:

In order for a phobia to be diagnosed, it must significantly interfere with the sufferer’s daily life. If you are finding yourself having many of the above symptoms it would be beneficial to see a doctor and be evaluated.

Treatment for a Phobia

If the phobia doesn’t cause severe problem, most people can simply avoid their fears completely and that is enough for them to stay in control. If the fear is impossible to avoid it might be necessary to get professional help. Doctors and psychiatrists can help but no one treatment works for everyone.

Some people use hypnotherapy, some use behavior therapy, which includes desensitization and cognitive behavioral therapy. Medication can also be helpful to people who struggle with phobias and is supplemental to their therapy.

The following medications have been shown to be effective for the treatment of phobias:

  • Beta Blockers
  • Anti-depressants
  • Tranquilizers (sedatives)

The following therapies have been shown to effectively treat phobias:

  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy: A modality based on the idea that our thoughts cause our feelings and behaviors, as opposed to external things like people, situations, and events. It’s usually short-term and focused on a very specific problem. During the course of treatment, patients learn how to identify healthy thought patterns that have a negative influence on behavior.
  • Behavior Therapy (Desensitization): A modality used to remove the fear response of a phobia, and substitute a relaxation response to get the body used to relaxing instead of being fearful around the phobia.


  1. “What Is A Phobia? What Causes Phobia?” Medical News Today. 22 August 2012. Web. 26 February 2013.
  2. “What Is a Phobia?” 22 November 2011. Web. 26 February 2013.
  3. Cherry, Kendra. “Phobia List – An A to Z List of Phobias.” na. Web. 26 February 2013.

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