Fears and Phobias

March 10, 2014 at 9:00 AM

A phobia is defined as an irrational fear that produces a conscious avoidance of the feared subject, situation or activity. The affected person usually realizes that the reaction is excessive. The fear, anxiety or avoidance typically lasts for six months or longer. Taken together, phobic disorders (including social phobia) are the most common type of mental illness and are characterized by the experienced anxiety. Severity can range from mild and unobtrusive to severe and life-altering.

 In the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), phobic disorders are no longer a distinct group of disorders; however, conceptually, they may create a useful category. Phobic disorders can be thought of as: 

In addition to social phobia and agoraphobia, the following are the most common types of specific phobias: 

  • Animal – such as fear of dogs (cynophobia), bees (apiphobia) or snakes (ophidiophobia)

  • Natural environment – such as fear of heights or water

  • Blood-injection-injury – fear of needles or invasive medical procedures

  • Situational – such as fear of flying or elevators

  • Other common phobias – fear of situations that may lead to choking or vomiting; in children, fear of loud sounds or costumed characters

Psychologists are qualified to diagnose people with anxiety disorders and skilled in using research-supported approaches, including CBT, to treat them.  Family psychotherapy can also help family members better understand their loved one's anxiety and learn to interact with them in ways that will not reinforce the anxiety and associated behaviors.


Reference: Phobic Disorders by Medscape Reference.


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