Wellness & Education

How to Recognize a Phobia

Everyone has felt afraid of something at one point or another. A phobia, however, is very different from normal fear and can be quite difficult to overcome. 

According to healthline.com, “A phobia is an excessive and irrational fear reaction. If you have a phobia, you may experience a deep sense of dread or panic when you encounter the source of your fear. The fear can be of a certain place, situation, or object. Unlike general anxiety disorders, a phobia is usually connected to something specific.”  Phobias: Causes, Types, Treatment, Symptoms & More (healthline.com)

Similar to other anxiety disorders, the person with a phobia is aware that their fear of a certain place, situation, or object is irrational. In spite of this awareness, they can do little to contain their feelings. 

Phobias are broken down into four main groups, although not all phobias fit into these groups. They include: 

  • Situational Phobia is the most common type of phobia. It involve fear of a variety of things, including airplanes, enclosed spaces or public speaking.
  • Animal Phobia is also common. This category includes a fear of insects, dogs, spiders, or horses.
  • Natural Environment Phobia is most commonly seen in an irrational fear of thunderstorms or heights.
  • Mutilation/Medical Treatment Phobia includes a phobia of needles, medical procedures, or the dentist.

It’s important to remember that a phobia-induced fear is not similar to common feelings of anxiety or fear. Phobias can ultimately lead to life-changing behaviors if not treated appropriately. A few of the common symptoms of a phobia include an immediate feeling of intense fear, anxiety and panic when a person is exposed to or even thinks about, the object of their phobia.  

Over time these worsening anxieties can lead someone with a phobia to engage in extreme behavior in order to avoid the object of a phobia. This can seriously disrupt quality of life. When the feeling of anxiety begins to negatively affect one’s ability to function in work, school, or social situations, it is time to seek medical treatment for a phobia.

If you feel as if your life is being negatively impacted by irrational fear, be sure to talk with your doctor or mental health professional. Most phobias can be helped with cognitive behavioral therapy or medication.