10-19-2008, 06:04 PM
[center]What is a specific phobia?[/center]
There are over 275 types of Specific Phobias that are listed according to some sources. In order to qualify for the diagnosis of a Specific Phobia, the person must have an excessive and unreasonable fear due to the presence or anticipation of a specific object or situation; exposure to the stimulus causes an anxiety response; the sufferer realizes that the fear is excessive or unreasonable; and, the avoidance of or distress due to the stimuli causes impairment in functioning.
These are phobias restricted to highly specific situations such as proximity to particular animals, heights, thunder, darkness, flying, closed spaces, urinating or defecating in public toilets, eating certain foods, dentistry, the sight of blood or injury, and the fear of exposure to specific diseases. Although the triggering situation is discrete, contact with it can evoke panic as in agoraphobia or social phobias. Specific phobias usually arise in childhood or early adult life and can persist for decades if they remain untreated. The seriousness of the resulting handicap depends on how easy it is for the sufferer to avoid the phobic situation. Fear of the phobic situation tends not to fluctuate, in contrast to agoraphobia. Radiation sickness and venereal infections and, more recently, AIDS are common subjects of disease phobias.
All of the following should be fulfilled for a definite diagnosis:
The psychological or autonomic symptoms must be primary manifestations of anxiety, and not secondary to other symptoms such as delusion or obsessional thought;
The anxiety must be restricted to the presence of the particular phobic object or situation; and the phobic situation is avoided whenever possible.
It is usual for there to be no other psychiatric symptoms, in contrast to agoraphobia and social phobias. Blood-injury phobias differ from others in leading to bradycardia and sometimes syncope, rather than tachycardia. Fears of specific diseases such as cancer, heart disease, or venereal infection should be classified under hypochondriacal disorder, unless they relate to specific situations where the disease might be acquired. If the conviction of disease reaches delusional intensity, the diagnosis should be delusional disorder. Individuals who are convinced that they have an abnormality or disfigurement of a specific bodily (often facial) part, which is not objectively noticed by others (sometimes termed dysmorphophobia), should be classified under hypochondriacal disorder or delusional disorder, depending upon the strength and persistence of their conviction.
People with a specific phobias have an excessive and unreasonable fear in the presence of or anticipation of a specific object, place, or situation.
Common specific phobias include animals, insects, heights, thunder, driving, public transportation, flying, dental or medical procedures, and elevators.
Although the person with a phobia realizes that the fear is irrational, even thinking about it can cause extreme anxiety.
Specific phobias involve a strong, irrational fear of a specific situation or object. There are five types of specific phobias:
[list]Animal phobias. Animal phobias are fears caused by an animal or insect. Examples include fear of snakes, fear of spiders, fear of rodents, and fear of dogs.
Natural environment phobias. Natural environment phobias are fears cued by objects found in nature. Examples include fear of heights, fear of storms, fear of water, and fear of the dark.
Situational phobias. Situational phobias are fears triggered by a specific situation. Examples include fear of enclosed spaces (claustrophobia), fear of elevators, fear of flying, fear of dentists, fear of driving, fear of tunnels, and fear of bridges.
Blood-Injection-Injury phobia. Blood-injection-injury phobia involves fear of blood, fear or injury, or a fear of shots or another medical procedure.
Other phobias. This includes all phobias that donât fall into one of the first four categories. Examples include fear of choking, fear of illness, fear of injury, fear of death, and fear of clowns.[/list:u]
Specific phobias are very common. They usually begin in childhood or adolescence and as many as 50% go away on their own within five years. The most common phobias are of animals, storms, heights, illness, injury, and death. Animal phobias and blood-injection-injury phobias are most common in children. Situational phobias usually begin in the mid-twenties and are most common in adults. Although there are many possible causes of a specific phobia, some phobias are the result of a traumatic experience.
How can specific phobias affect your life?
The impact of a phobia on oneâs life depends on how easy it is to avoid the feared object, place, or situation. Since individuals do whatever they can to avoid the uncomfortable and often terrifying feelings of phobic anxiety, phobias can disrupt daily routines, limit work efficiency, reduce self-esteem, and place a strain on relationships.
What causes specific phobias?
Specific phobias are the most common type of anxiety disorder, affecting 19 million American adults. Most phobias seem to come out of the blue, usually arising in childhood or early adulthood. Scientists believe that phobias can be traced to a combination of genetic tendencies, brain chemistry and other biological, psychological, and environmental factors.
What treatments are available?
Most individuals who seek treatment for phobias and other anxiety disorders see significant improvement and enjoy a better quality of life. A variety of treatment options exists, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), exposure therapy, anxiety management, relaxation techniques, and medications. One or a combination of these may be recommended.
It is important to remember that there is no single ârightâ treatment. What works for one person may not be the best choice for someone else. A course of treatment should be tailored to individual needs. Ask your doctor to explain why a particular type of treatment is being recommended, what other options are available, and what you need to do to fully participate in your recovery.
Suffering from a specific phobia or any anxiety disorder can interfere with many aspects of your life. You may feel alone, embarrassed, or frightened.
Top 10 Common Specific Phobias
Acrophobia - Fear of Heights
Acrophobia is a generalized fear of all heights. This distinguishes it from aerophobia (fear of flying) and other more specified phobias.
Acrophobia is sometimes confused with vertigo. Vertigo is a physical condition that causes dizziness or disorientation when looking down from a great height. A fear of developing vertigo symptoms at height is not acrophobia.
Claustrophobia - Fear of Enclosed Spaces
Claustrophobia can range from mild to severe. In severe cases, the sufferer may develop anxiety from simply closing a bedroom door.
Many sufferers find that their claustrophobia is specifically triggered by certain common situations such as entering an elevator or riding in an airplane. Some people discover undiagnosed claustrophobia when undergoing an MRI.
Nyctophobia - Fear of the Dark
This fear is common and generally transient in children. If it persists for longer than six months and causes extreme anxiety, however, it may be diagnosed as a phobia. It is less common in adults.
Ophidiophobia - Fear of Snakes
Ophidiophobia refers specifically to snakes. If other reptiles are also feared, then the more general herpetophobia (fear of reptiles) is used.
People who suffer from this phobia are not only afraid of touching snakes. They also show fear when viewing pictures of snakes or even talking about them.
Arachnophobia - Fear of Spiders
This is an extremely common animal phobia. Sufferers generally fear spider webs and other signs that a spider may be in the vicinity. They also fear pictures of spiders.
Trypanophobia - Fear of Injection or Medical Needles
Trypanophobia is a medical phobia. A more general fear of non-medical needles is known as aichmophobia.
Trypanophobia may result in serious physiological responses including very low blood pressure and fainting. In some cases, severe trypanophobia may lead the sufferer to avoid all medical care.
Astraphobia - Fear of Thunder and Lightning
This is a common fear among children. If it is severe and continues for longer than six months, however, then a phobia may be diagnosed.
Both adults and children tend to deal with the fear by seeking âshelter,â securing themselves in windowless areas where the storm cannot be seen.
Nosophobia - Fear of Having a Disease
Nosophobia is the irrational fear of developing a specific disease. Hypochondriasis is a related disorder marked by the persistent fear of having an unspecified disease. Sufferers of either disorder may become frequent visitors of the doctorâs office, or may instead develop an avoidance of doctors for fear of hearing bad news.
Mysophobia AKA Germophobia - Fear of Germs
This is an intense fear of becoming contaminated by germs. It is related to obsessive-compulsive disorder, which is often marked by repetitive hand-washing. However, for OCD sufferers the focus is on the act of hand-washing itself, while mysophobia sufferers wash hands to remove the contamination.
Triskaidekaphobia - Fear of the Number 13
There is some controversy regarding triskaidekaphobia, as many experts see it as a superstition rather than a legitimate phobia. Nonetheless, triskaidekaphobia is so pervasive in Western culture that it has actually influenced the modern world.
For example, it is rare to see a 13th floor in a hotel or office building. Many people refuse to live in homes with a 13 in the address. Even public transportation is affected, with airplanes skipping over the 13th row.