What Are Phobias?

A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by an uncontrollable, irrational, and lasting fear of a certain object or situation. When people have a phobia, they are likely to experience a deep sense of dread. This feeling can be so overwhelming that a person may go to great lengths to avoid the source of the fear. 

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It is estimated that 9.1% of Americans—more than 19 million people—suffer from one or more phobias. Some of the most well-known phobias include:

  • Fear of open spaces or places in which you can’t escape (agoraphobia)
  • Medical or dental treatments (like hemophobia or dentophobia)
  • Animal or insect bites (like arachnophobia)
  • Social anxiety disorder (social phobia) 
  • Getting blood drawn (hemophobia)
  • Confined spaces (claustrophobia)
  • Public speaking (glossophobia) 
  • Heights (acrophobia)
  • Flying (aviophobia)

Phobias can be debilitating, so it’s important to understand the symptoms and seek mental health attention if you struggle with a phobia.

When should I get help for a phobia?

Individuals should seek out treatment when their phobia interferes with their general quality of life and ability to function. The clinicians at Thriving Center of Psychology encourage you to come in for a phobia evaluation if you experience any of the following symptoms when exposed to your phobia:

  • Excessive anxiety
  • Intense discomfort
  • Chronic avoidance
  • Fast-talking
  • Upset stomach
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Inability to speak 
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Chest tightness or pain

People with phobias may also experience panic attacks when confronted with the feared object or situation. A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear or anxiety, paired with physical symptoms, in response to a perceived threat. Learn more about panic attacks here.

These types of symptoms can negatively affect your work, your family and home life, and make you avoid once enjoyable activities and hobbies. 

How are phobias treated?  

Thriving Center of Psychology specializes in evidence-based phobia treatments such as:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Exposure Therapy
  • Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET)

Decades of research have demonstrated that CBT, combined with exposure therapy, can effectively reduce one’s symptoms. In exposure therapy, individuals are gradually exposed to the feared object or situation until their fear starts to fade. In addition, clinicians can also teach their clients relaxation and breathing exercises that will help ease symptoms.  

Thriving Center of Psychology specializes in helping men and women recover from the most complex and debilitating types of phobias. You can feel confident that you’re in entirely capable hands. Book your phobia evaluation at Thriving Center of Psychology by clicking the online scheduler. You can also call the clinic to speak with a team member.