Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Anxiety & Panic Disorders Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Specific Phobias

The term "phobia" refers to a group of anxiety symptoms brought on by certain objects or situations.

A specific phobia, formerly called a simple 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 (nervousness) or to avoid the object or situation entirely. The distress associated with the phobia and/or the need to avoid the object or situation can significantly interfere with the person's ability to function. Adults with a specific phobia recognize that the fear is excessive or unreasonable, yet are unable to overcome it.

Recommended Related to Anxiety Panic

Conquering Fear of Public Speaking

Steve Tingley’s promotion came with a new duty he dreaded. When the 52-year-old was appointed director of media services for a Madison, Wis., insurance company, he was expected to make presentations to other divisions and outside groups. “I’d break out in a sweat, get very nervous, stutter on the stage. I’d lose my concentration, and it all fell apart,” he says. Most of us feel a little twinge at taking the podium, but for some, the anxiety is debilitating. Estimates suggest as many as 35% of Americans...

Read the Conquering Fear of Public Speaking article > >

There are different types of specific phobias, based on the object or situation feared, including:

  • Animal phobias: Examples include the fear of dogs, snakes, insects, or mice. Animal phobias are the most common specific phobias.
  • Situational phobias: These involve a fear of specific situations, such as flying, riding in a car or on public transportation, driving, going over bridges or in tunnels, or of being in a closed-in place, like an elevator.
  • Natural environment phobias: Examples include the fear of storms, heights, or water.
  • Blood-injection-injury phobias: These involve a fear of being injured, of seeing blood or of invasive medical procedures, such as blood tests or injections
  • Other phobias: These include a fear of falling down, a fear of loud sounds, and a fear of costumed characters, such as clowns.

A person can have more than one specific phobia.

What Are the Symptoms of Specific Phobias?

Symptoms of specific phobias may include:

  • Excessive or irrational fear of a specific object or situation.
  • Avoiding the object or situation or enduring it with great distress.
  • Physical symptoms of anxiety or a panic attack, such as a pounding heart, nausea or diarrhea, sweating, trembling or shaking, numbness or tingling, problems with breathing (shortness of breath), feeling dizzy or lightheaded, feeling like you are choking.
  • Anticipatory anxiety, which involves becoming nervous ahead of time about being in certain situations or coming into contact with the object of your phobia. (For example, a person with a fear of dogs may become anxious about going for a walk because he or she may see a dog along the way.)

Children with a specific phobia may express their anxiety by crying, clinging to a parent, or throwing a tantrum.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

young leukemia patient
Article
Unhappy couple
Article
 
embarrassed woman
SLIDESHOW
clown
Quiz
 
Phobias frightened eyes
Slideshow
podium
Article
 
organize
Article
stressed boy in classroom
Article
 
Distressed teen girl in dramatic lighting
Article
man hiding with phone
Article
 
chain watch
Article
tarantula
Article