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Specific Phobias

What Are Specific Phobias?

Fear is a completely rational response to situations that one deems to be harmful to oneself. Most people feel afraid of certain situations, activities, animals, or objects. Again, this is not uncommon at all.
However, some people react to situations and objects by imagining and unnecessarily exaggerating the danger. In other words, their feeling of anxiety, fear, and terror is out of proportion to the actual threat. Moreover, sometimes the mere sight of the stimulus is more than enough to cause about a reaction. And it is these type of excessive reactions that indicates a person having specific phobias.

People who have specific phobias are well aware of the fact that their feeling of fear is a bit over the top and irrational but feel that their reaction is uncontrollable and automatic.
Specific phobias are also associated with panic disorders where the person feels overwhelming physical uneasiness, dizziness, heaviness in the chest, nausea, etc.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms?

A person may be diagnosed with specific phobia if he/she:

  • Have a persistent and unreasonable fear of a specific situation or object.
  • Tries to avoid situations where he/she might have to face the phobic stimulus.
  • Finds that going about with daily life activity is becoming difficult.
  • The anxiety or phobia is persistent for at least 6 months or more.

Specific Phobias Are Usually Divided Into The Following Categories:

  • Animal type: Fear relating to animals and insects.
  • Natural environment type: For example fear of thunder and heights.
  • Injury type: Fear of medical procedures like taking an injection or seeing blood.
  • Situational type: Fear of facing certain situations like driving on a bridge, anxiety in the elevator, etc.
  • Others: Any other specific stimulus like fear of choking, vomiting, etc.

It needs to be said here that a person might have more than one of the above-mentioned specific phobias.

Causes of Specific Phobias

There might be several factors that might lead to a specific phobia. Some of which are the following:

  • Temperament: One of the most common traits that might indicate that a person might develop specific phobia is the tendency to inhibition.
  • A family history of mental illness: A specific phobia may also develop in a person where there is a history of mental health conditions mostly because it is a genetic predisposition.

What Are The Treatments Available?

Any person with specific phobias might take the help of a professional which is the first line of treatment. Psychological treatments are available where medication is only administered in severe cases.