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SNOMED Terms

  • Specific phobia

 

Goals

  • Reduce fear of the specific stimulus object or situation that previously provoked phobic anxiety.

  • Reduce phobic avoidance of the specific object or situation, leading to comfort and independence in moving around in public environment.

  • Eliminate interference in normal routines and remove distress from feared object or situation.

 

Behavioral Definitions

  • Describes a persistent and unreasonable fear of a specific object or situation that promotes avoidance behaviors because an encounter with the phobic stimulus provokes an immediate anxiety response.

  • Avoids the phobic stimulus/feared environment or endures it with distress, resulting in interference of normal routines.

  • Acknowledges a persistence of fear despite recognition that the fear is unreasonable.

  • Demonstrates no evidence of a panic disorder.

 

Diagnoses

  • Specific Phobia

What is Phobia? 

A phobia is an anxiety disorder characterized by an intense and irrational fear of a specific object, situation, or activity. This fear is persistent and can significantly interfere with daily life. Here's a breakdown of phobias:
 

Key Features:
 

  • Intense and Irrational Fear: People with phobias experience a heightened and unreasonable fear towards a particular trigger.

  • Avoidance: To cope with the anxiety caused by the phobic trigger, people often go to great lengths to avoid it. This avoidance can limit their daily activities and routines.

  • Distress and Anxiety: Exposure to the phobic stimulus triggers physical symptoms of anxiety like sweating, rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, dizziness, or even panic attacks.
     

Types of Phobias:
 

There are many different phobias, and they can be broadly categorized into two main types:
 

  • Specific Phobias: This is the most common type of phobia and refers to a fear of a specific object or situation. Examples include acrophobia (fear of heights), claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces), arachnophobia (fear of spiders), agoraphobia (fear of situations where escape might be difficult or help unavailable), and social phobias (fear of social situations).

  • Social Phobias (Social Anxiety Disorder): This is a distinct phobia characterized by an intense fear of social situations where a person may be scrutinized or judged by others. People with social phobia may worry excessively about embarrassing themselves or being negatively evaluated.
     

Causes:
 

The exact cause of phobias is unknown, but it's likely a combination of factors, including:
 

  • Genetics: Phobias can run in families, suggesting a genetic predisposition.

  • Negative Experiences: Having a traumatic experience related to the phobic object or situation can trigger a phobia.

  • Environmental Factors: Learning phobias from others or witnessing a frightening event can contribute to phobia development.

Effects of Phobia

Here's a closer look at the potential consequences of phobias:

Limited Daily Activities: To avoid phobic triggers, people may restrict their daily activities and routines. 


Reduced Quality of Life: They may miss out on important experiences, hobbies, and social interactions.


Increased Anxiety and Stress: The constant fear of encountering phobic triggers can lead to chronic anxiety and stress.


Isolation and Loneliness: Avoiding social situations or places due to phobias can lead to social isolation and loneliness.


Work or School Difficulties: Phobias can affect a person's ability to perform their job duties or attend school regularly, potentially leading to job loss or academic difficulties.


Strained Relationships: Avoiding activities or places loved ones enjoy can strain relationships with family and friends.


Financial Strain: In severe cases, phobias can lead to financial difficulties if avoidance behaviors significantly impact work or require expensive private treatment.

How does Phobia affect your life?

  • Someone with a fear of heights (acrophobia) might avoid taking the stairs, using elevators, or going to bridges.

  • A person with a fear of public speaking (social phobia) might avoid presentations at work, school, or even social gatherings.

  • Someone with a fear of flying (aerophobia) might be unable to travel for work or leisure.

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