Specific Phobia (SP) is the irrational, intense fear of a specific object or situation. There were five types of SPs: blood, injection, injury (B-I-I), animal, natural environment, situational, and other.
What are the symptoms of specific phobia?
Common responses to triggers of SP include:
- increased heart rate
- chest pains
SP can significantly impact daily life, especially for those with a fear of injection or blood injury. These patients may go as far as to avoid medical treatment or drop out of medical school. Children with natural environment phobia are less satisfied with life, while adults find that they interfere with social functioning.
What causes specific phobia?
While there are no clear genetic risk factors for SP, it is noted that individuals with SP typically have close relatives with the same SP. Some individuals with SP have also had a traumatic experience related to their fear.
Who is more likely to be affected?
The prevalence of B-I-I is approximately 3 to 5%. The most common SPs are natural environment 8.9-11.6% such as a fear of heights, or storms. Animal phobia ranges between 3 and 7%. Situational phobia ranges from 5 to 8%. These types include flying, enclosed areas and driving.
When do specific phobias develop?
These phobias develop at different stages of life depending on its type. Many situational phobias develop in early to mid-twenties, while a fear of heights is more likely to develop during early adolescence. Like with other anxiety disorders, SP is more common in females than in males. Some fears are overwhelmingly common in women such as animal phobias (91%), and situational (87-90%).
What other conditions commonly occur with specific phobias?
More than half (75.8%) of individuals with SP also have multiple phobias.
What treatments are available for specific phobia?
The most effective treatments for most SPs have repeated exposure to the phobia in a controlled environment. Some medications may also help reduce feelings of anxiety.