Specific Phobias, Phobia-related Disorder
Phobia-related disorders, or specific phobias, involve persistent, unrealistic, intense anxiety about and irrational fear of specific situations, circumstances, or objects. Phobias involve intense fear surrounding an object or situation that realistically poses little or no real danger.
People who experience excessive and unreasonable fears in the presence of or in anticipation of a specific object, place, or situation have a specific phobia. Specific phobias can disrupt day-to-day functioning, limit work efficiency, reduce self-esteem, and strain relationships.
Types of Specific Phobias
Specific Phobias may be characterized by the object or situation feared:
- Animal phobias; e.g. fear of snakes, insects, mice;
- Situational phobias: e.g. fear of open spaces (agoraphobia), confined places (claustrophobia), flying, driving, riding in a car, riding public transportation;
- Blood / Injection / Injury phobias;
- Natural environment phobias: e.g. fear of heights (acrophobia), water, storms;
- Other phobias: e.g. fear of vomiting (emetophobia), loud noises, falling down, clowns.
Symptoms of Phobia-related Disorder
Symptoms of Phobia-related Disorder are similar to those of a panic attack:
- Uncontrollable feelings of anxiety and panic
- Rapid heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing, chest tightening and/or feelings of choking
- Nausea, dizziness, lightheadedness
- Sweating, Hot or cold flashes
- Trembling, shaking
- An overwhelming desire to escape
Risk Factors for Phobia-related Disorder
The exact cause of Specific Phobias not fully known, but several factors — including personality, genetics, and environment or experiences — appear to contribute to its development.
- Genetics: Having parents or other family members with Specific Phobias can increase the likelihood that a person will develop phobias.
- Environment / Experiences: Trauma and stressful events, may contribute to Specific Phobias. Specific phobias also may become worse during periods of stress.
- Other Mental Health Disorders. A person who has depression or other anxiety disorders may be more prone to specific phobias.
Treatment for Phobia-related Disorder
Psychotherapy, sometimes referred to as “talk therapy” or counseling, is a vital component of treating phobia-related disorders. There are a variety of specific psychotherapeutic approaches that can be explored in the treatment of phobia-related disorders, including:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Mindfulness-based Psychotherapy
- Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy
- Virtual Reality Therapy
- Integrative Psychotherapy
Medication does not cure phobia-related disorders but can help relieve their symptoms. The types of medications used to treat the symptoms of phobia-related disorders include:
- Anti-Anxiety Medications
Every individual will react to various medications in their own way, and several different medications, or combinations of medications, may be tried before finding one that improves symptoms with manageable side effects.
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms and wish to seek treatment for phobia-related disorders, please contact me for an evaluation.
Also see Anxiety Disorders & Fears »