Phobias - Topic Overview
Adults with phobias know that the amount of fear and worry
they feel is more than the danger of being hurt by the object, situation, or
activity. Children do not understand this about their phobias.
Many people with phobias are more afraid of being hurt by the object or
situation than they are afraid of the object or situation itself. For example,
a person might be afraid of traveling in an airplane because he or she is
worried that the plane will crash. People with phobias might be worried about
the following things happening when they are around the object or situation
they are afraid of:
- Losing control
physically stressed or afraid, including having a faster heartbeat or having a
hard time breathing
- Fainting. Many people who have a
blood-injection-injury phobia faint when they are around the object of their
phobia. For example, a person might faint when he or she has to get a
The amount of worry or fear a person has depends on how
close they are to the object, situation, or activity they are afraid of. For
example, a person is more afraid of a spider that is on the table in front of
him or her than of a spider that is outside a window. The worry and fear a
person has also depend on how easily the person can get away. For example, a
person might feel more afraid when he or she is in an elevator when the doors
are shut than when the doors are open.
How are phobias diagnosed?
To find out if you have a
phobia, your doctor will ask questions about your
symptoms, including how long you have had them. Your doctor will also do a
physical exam and ask questions about your medical
history. And he or she will ask questions about medicines you are taking. This information
will help your doctor find out whether or not you have some other
To be diagnosed with a phobia, you must have most of
the following symptoms:
- You are more afraid than most people of a specific object,
situation, or activity.
- You feel stressed or have a panic attack
when you are near the object or situation.
- If you are a teenager or
adult, you understand that the amount of fear you have about the object or
situation is not reasonable.
- You avoid the object, situation, or
activity that you are afraid of.
- The fear and stress that you feel
make it hard for you to do normal activities such as going to work every day or
doing grocery shopping.
- If you are under age 18, you have had
symptoms for at least 6 months.
- Your symptoms don't fit another
problem, such as