A phobia is more than a simple fear. It develops when a person begins to organise their life around avoiding the thing they are afraid of, whether it’s an animal, object, place or situation.
A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder. If you have a phobia, you will have an overwhelming need to avoid all contact with the source of your anxiety. Coming into contact with the cause of your phobia or even the thought of this can make you anxious and may cause you to panic.
If the cause of your phobia is an object or animal that you do not come into contact with regularly, such as a snake, it is unlikely to affect your day-to-day life. However, if you have a more complex phobia, such as agoraphobia (see below), you may find it very difficult to lead a normal life. Read more about the symptoms of phobias.
There are many different phobias, which can be divided into two main categories:
Simple phobias are fears about specific objects, animals, situations or activities. Some common examples include:
Phobias affect different people in different ways. Some people only react with mild anxiety when confronted with the object of their fear, while others experience severe anxiety or have a severe panic attack.
Complex phobias tend to be more disabling than simple phobias because they are often associated with a deep-rooted fear or anxiety about a particular circumstance or situation. Two common examples of complex phobias are agoraphobia and social phobia. (please see Panic Disorder with Agrophobia and Social Phobia for more information).
Almost all phobias can be successfully treated and cured. Treating simple phobias involves gradually becoming exposed to the animal, object, place or situation that causes fear. This is known as desensitisation or exposure therapy.
Recommended number of sessions range from between 6-12 sessions of CBT.
Further information can be found at www.nice.org.uk