A phobia involves intense fear or anxiety about a specific object or situation. Examples include a fear of flying, heights, spiders or seeing blood. This fear and anxiety is highly predictable and occurs almost always when the phobic situation is encountered. People with a phobia often manage their anxiety by avoiding that situation or object. If they cannot avoid the situation or object, they will endure it with intense anxiety.
People with a phobia may be aware that their fear is out of proportion to the actual danger posed by the object or situation. For example someone with a phobia of dogs may be aware that their intense fear is triggered despite contact with a dog that is obviously friendly and/or quite small.
The intensity of the person’s fear may also result in difficulties attending to daily activities (e.g., a person with a fear of heights may avoid walking or driving over bridges and this in turn hinders their ability to go to work). To be considered a Phobia the fear needs to have persisted for a period of six months or more.
A Specific Phobia is diagnosed only if it’s clear that legal or illegal drug use is not causing the excessive fear and other symptoms of anxiety.
Disclaimer: The information covered on this website is for educational purposes only. Other anxiety disorders including Panic Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Social Phobia (Social Anxiety) can share symptoms in common with Phobias, so it’s important to speak with your GP or a psychologist about your concerns to clarify what you’re experiencing and to receive appropriate treatment. A diagnosis of any psychiatric or medical condition must only be made by a medical or mental health specialist. Diagnosing a psychiatric concern is a complex process that involves formal training, do not ‘diagnose’ yourself.
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