(Specific Phobia; Simple Phobia)
A phobia is an intensely fearful response to something that would not normally cause fear. Phobias can interfere with different aspects of your life. Most phobias develop in childhood, though some develop during adulthood.
There are many kinds of phobias, which can be grouped into these categories:
- Agoraphobia —Fear of being trapped in places or situations where escape could be difficult or impossible
- Social phobia —Fear of social situations and being judged or evaluated by others
- Specific phobia—Fear of a specific object or a situation
People may recognize a phobia as irrational, but do not have any control over their fear response or anxiety. If you think you have a phobia, talk to your doctor.
It is not clear what causes phobias. Factors that may affect the development of a phobia include:
- Brain chemicals
- Traumatic experiences
Phobias are more common in women than in men. They also tend to run in families. You may have an increased chance of developing a phobia if you have an immediate family member with a phobia.
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Symptoms occur when you are exposed to the object or situation that you fear. Your fear may be more intense if you cannot easily get away from it.
Psychological symptoms may include:
- Having intense feelings of panic and extreme anxiety when exposed to the fear
- Being afraid that you are losing control, going crazy, or dying
- Having a feeling of unreality or being detached from your body
- Being aware that the fear is abnormal, but not being able to control your reaction
- Feeling the desire to flee from your fear or taking extreme steps to avoid it
- Experiencing fear that interferes with your daily activities
Physical symptoms may include:
- Racing, pounding, or skipping heartbeat
- Difficulty catching your breath
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Lightheadedness, feeling faint
- Tingling or numbness in parts of the body
- Hot or cold flashes
- Shaking or trembling