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Specific (Simple) Phobias


People with specific phobias suffer from an intense fear reaction to a specific object or situation (such as spiders, dogs, or heights); the level of fear is usually excessive to the situation, recognized by the sufferer as being irrational, and can lead to the avoidance of common, everyday situations. Specific Phobias are characterized by the excessive fear of an object or a situation, exposure to which causes an anxious response, such as a Panic Attack. Adults with phobias recognize that their fear is excessive and unreasonable, but they are hard pressed to control it. The feared object or situation is usually avoided or anticipated with dread.

Specific Phobia is diagnosed when an individual's fear interferes with their daily routine, employment (e.g., missing out on a promotion because of a fear of flying), social life (e.g., inability to go to crowded places), or if having the phobia is significantly distressful. The level of fear felt by the sufferer varies and can depend on the proximity of the feared object or chances of escape from the feared situation.

Phobias that begin in childhood may disappear as the individual grows older, but not always, and residual and associated fears and anxieties can continue to appear and change in expression, worsening without treatment. Fear of certain types of animals is the most common Specific Phobia. The disorder can be comorbid with Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia.


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