is a Phobia?
is an intense fear and avoidance of a specific situation. Typical
Phobias include leaving the home, (known as Agoraphobia), crowded
places, hospitals, thunder, the sight of blood, injections, spiders,
snakes, heights, social situations and enclosed spaces (known as
Claustrophobia). The list is literally endless, as any situation
can become the focus of a Phobia. What distinguishes a Phobia from
a normal fear is that it is irrational, and far out of proportion
to any actual danger that might be involved. It also causes the
sufferer problems in their everyday life, for example by getting
in the way of their work or social life.
Phobias can arise as a symptom of other conditions such as Depression
or Panic Disorder. They can be learned in childhood by observing
a parent with similar fears. They also often occur after a traumatic
event, such as a car accident or a violent attack, after which the
person may become afraid for example to drive or to walk out alone.
are the symptoms?
main symptoms of a Phobia are intense anxiety, and avoidance of
the feared situation. The anxiety is usually both mental and physical.
Mental symptoms can include catastrophic thoughts and worries about
what might happen, for example that they might collapse and die,
make a fool of themselves, or go mad. Physical symptom can include
a racing heart, breathlessness, sweating and muscular tension. Some
people experience Panic Attacks in their phobic situation.
feared situation is most often totally or partially avoided, and
people will go out of their way, and often suffer great inconvenience,
in order to avoid a phobic situation. However, some people do persist
in going into the situation they fear, and endure it with a sense
How long does it last?
Phobias can be quite short lived, and go on for only a few months,
for example while the person is suffering from an episode of Depression,
or in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event. However, many
Phobias can be very last long-lasting, not infrequently lasting
for life. If the person persists in avoiding the feared situation,
then the Phobia is much more likely to be prolonged than if they
try to face it.
What is the treatment?
has been used very successfully in the treatment of Phobias. The
treatment should include use of techniques to control anxious thoughts
("cognitions") as well as training in controlling the
physical symptoms of anxiety, and carefully graded exposure to the