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Formerly called Simple Phobia, patients with Specific Phobias exhibit all the symptoms of an anxiety Disorder; the class in which these phobias are diagnosed. Patients with a Specific Phobia have an intense and overwhelming fear of a location, thing or person or animal, and they persist in this fear in of the fact that the object poses no real threat to their well-being. Some of the most common specific phobias are fear of tight spaces or closed-in places, fear of heights, escalators, tunnels, highway driving, elevators, water, flying, dogs or other animals, snakes, birds, spiders, bees, and blood or needles. Specific Phobias are not just normal fear. They involve irrational and paralyzing fear that causes physical and emotional symptoms of anxiety and avoidance. Patients realize that these fears are irrational, but the very idea of facing the thing that they fear can often bring about a panic attack or severe anxiety, with rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath. If the thing the patient fears is easy to avoid - for example a person who does not have to fly often, may not have difficulty avoiding air travel – and therefore may not seek treatment. When a patient makes an important career or personal decision based on his/her phobia, or if a phobic fear is carried to extremes, it can be debilitating to social, work and family life. Most phobias persist for years, sometimes even for decades, and few without treatment. Fortunately, most Specific Phobias respond very well to treatment. Phobias typically do not result from one exposure, like a dog bite or near drowning. Rather, there is often evidence of phobia in other family members, and of social or vicariously acquired phobias that occur through conditioning, and behavior modeling, e.g. your mother’s extreme fear of bees and her irrational and fearful behavior around bees may cause you to become phobic about bees.
What are the symptoms?
Some symptoms of Specific Phobias may vary. The following is a summary of symptoms:
How is it diagnosed and treated?
Before diagnosing Specific Phobia, doctors will perform a thorough physical and mental evaluation and rule out other disease or disorders such as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, and Separation Anxiety Disorder. Social Phobia or Panic Disorder With Agoraphobia. Diagnosis is based on the persistent occurrence of the symptoms detailed above.
Treatment(s) can include:
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