Specific Phobia

Phobias are irrational, involuntary, and inappropriate fears of and responses to ordinary things and situations. Phobias are divided into tree different categories: Specific Phobia, Social Phobia (Social Anxiety Disorder), and Agoraphobia. We will cover each of these different types of phobias in the next couple of newsletters.

A Specific Phobia is an intense and persistent fear toward a clearly identifiable object or situation and exposure to the feared stimulus can result in anxiety or a panic attack. The focus of the fear usually stems from anticipated harm from the object or situation. For example, a person with a phobia of driving may be concerned about being in a traffic accident. Also, the patient may be concerned about ‘losing control’ upon exposure to the phobia; for instance, fainting. Although the patient may realize that his fear is unreasonable or excessive, he still goes to great lengths to try to avoid the stimulus all together or he will only endure it with dread. The avoidance, fear, and anxiety associated with a Specific Phobia can significantly disrupt the patient’s daily life and occupational and social functioning. Children, adolescents and adults are all susceptible to Specific Phobias.

There are five (5) main types of Specific Phobias:

  1. Animal Type. As you may have guessed, this type of phobia stems from animals or insects and often has its roots in childhood.
  2. Natural Environment Type. This type includes phobias such as storms, heights, or water. This type, too, often begins in childhood.
  3. Blood-Injection-Injury Type. This type of phobia includes the fear of seeing blood or injury, receiving an injection, or other medical procedures.
  4. Situational Type. This includes the fears of specific situations such as public transportation, tunnels, bridges, elevators, flying, driving, or enclosed places.
  5. Other Type. This type of phobia includes the fear of vomiting, choking, contracting an illness, loud noises, or other various miscellaneous fears.

In regards to the treatment of Specific Phobias, exposure-based psychological therapy is virtually 100% effective.

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