Anxiety Home > Phobias

Phobias are defined as a persistent, irrational, and severe fear of certain objects, activities, and situations. For example, a person may have a fear of water, spiders, or closed-in spaces. Research studies are being conducted to determine what exactly causes these fears. Cognitive behavioral therapy and medications are some of the tools that are useful in helping people learn to manage their anxiety.

What Are Phobias?

Phobias are a group of disorders that share a persistent, recurring, irrational, and severe anxiety surrounding specific objects, activities, or situations. Phobias also involve specific avoidance of the particular phobic stimulus.
Phobias are fairly common, and a diagnosis is usually made only when fear or avoidance behavior is a significant source of distress to the individual, or when it interferes with social or occupational functioning.

Different Types of Phobias

The common types of phobias include:
Social Phobia
Social phobia, also called social anxiety disorder, is characterized by overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social situations. People with social phobia have a persistent, intense, and chronic fear of being watched and judged by others and of being embarrassed or humiliated by their own actions. Their fear may be so severe that it interferes with work, school, and other ordinary activities.
While many people with social phobia recognize that their fear of being around people may be excessive or unreasonable, they are unable to overcome it. They often worry for days or weeks in advance of a dreaded situation.
Specific Phobia
A specific phobia is an intense fear of something that poses little or no actual danger. Some of the more common specific phobias are centered around:
  • Closed-in places (claustrophobia)
  • Heights (acrophobia)
  • Escalators
  • Tunnels
  • Highway driving
  • Water
  • Flying (pterygophobia)
  • Dogs
  • Spiders
  • Injuries involving blood.
Agoraphobia is the fear of being alone or in public places. This type of phobia rarely occurs in the absence of panic disorder.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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