What is Specific Phobia?
Specific Phobia is a severe fear of circumscribed objects or situations. Contact with the feared object or situation creates extreme distress and can cause avoidance as well. The objects, events, or situations can be almost anything but are usually considered one of four types: animal, natural environment, blood-injection-injury or situational. Although specific to a certain situation, event, or object, the fear is severe and causes significant functional impairment. For example, an individual who is afraid of flying may refuse to fly for work or may accept a demotion to avoid the possibility of having to fly to business meetings.
How Common is Specific Phobia?
Specific Phobias are among the most common anxiety disorders, affecting approximately 10% of the general population and specific phobias exist among children, adolescents, and adults. Fears of certain situations, such as heights or airplanes, are common in the general population, but fear alone is not sufficient for a diagnosis of Specific Phobia. Some individuals describe an aversive event (such as being bitten by a dog) that caused the onset of their phobia. Others cannot recall a specific event but note that parents or other relatives also have a similar fear, leading some to suggest that some of these fears are acquired by a person modeling the fearful behavior. Family history, and perhaps a biological basis, may be more characteristic of the blood-illness- injury category of specific phobia.