Phobias (Specific Phobias) 

A specific phobia is a lasting and unreasonable fear caused by the presence or thought of a specific object or situation that usually poses little or no actual danger.  Exposure to the object or situation brings about an immediate reaction, causing the person to endure intense anxiety or to avoid the object or situation entirely.  Adults recognize that the fear is excessive or unreasonable, yet are sill unable to overcome it.  
Diagnostic Criteria

*The individual suffers from a persistent fear that is either unreasonable or excessive, caused by the presence or anticipation of a specific object or situation

*Exposure to the stimulus usually results in an anxiety response

*The sufferrer recognizes that their fear is disproportionate to the perceivved threat or danger

*Individuals take steps to avoid the object or situation they fear, or endure such experiences with intense distress or anxiety

*The phobic reaction, anticipation or avoidance interferes with the individual's normal routine and relationships, or causes significant distress

*The phobia has persisted for a period of time, usually six months or longer

Symptoms often arise from anticipation of the presence of the feared stimulus as well as the actual presence of the actual stimulus.

*Increased heart rate

*Dizziness or unsteadiness



*Shaking or trembling

*Nausea or stomach upset

*Feeling short of breath

​*Avoidance behavior to not confront the feared object or stimulus

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT can be effective in treating the specific phobias.  Treatment typically involves gradually exposing the client to the feared situation or stimulus, in combination with relaxation techniques and cognitive restructuring while the exposure is occurring.  

Medication:  Anti-anxiety medications can be taken by the patient prior to exposure to the feared situation, such as before the plane flight. 

Often the patient does not seek treatment if they are able to structure their life in a manner in which they are rarely or never exposed to the feared stimulus.