Specific Phobia

A phobia is an excessive, disproportionate and persistent fear of a specific object, place, or situation. People will go to great lengths to avoid the feared object fear and experience great distress if it is encountered. These fears and reactions must result in interference with social and work life to meet the DSM-5 criteria. There are five subtypes of specific phobia: animal, natural environment, blood-injection-injury, situational and other.

Specific Phobia Symptoms

A person who has a specific phobia disorder experiences significant and persistent fear when in the presence of, or anticipating the presence of, the object of fear, which may be an object, place or situation.

The DSM-5 criteria for a specific phobia are:

  • Marked and out of proportion fear within an environmental or situational context to the presence or anticipation of a specific object or situation

  • Exposure to the phobic stimulus provokes an immediate anxiety response, which may take the form of a situationally bound or situationally predisposed panic attack.

  • The person recognizes that the fear is out of proportion.

  • The phobic situation(s) is avoided or else is endured with intense anxiety or distress.

  • The avoidance, anxious anticipation or distress in the feared situation(s) interferes significantly with the person’s normal routine, occupational (or academic) functioning, or social activities or relationships, or there is marked distress about having the phobia.

  • The anxiety, panic attack, or phobic avoidance associated with the specific object or situation is not better accounted for by another mental disorder.

  • Symptoms for all ages must have a duration of at least 6 months.

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