Phobias - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Phobias

Every year, approximately 19 million Americans experience one or more phobias that range from mild to severe. Phobias can happen in early childhood, but usually are first evident between the ages of 15 and 20 years.

A phobia is an uncontrollable, irrational and persistent fear of a specific object, situation or activity. The fear experienced by people with phobias can be so great that some people go to extreme lengths to avoid the source of their fear.

Research suggests that both genetic and environmental factors contribute to the onset of phobias. Specific phobias have been connected to a fearful first encounter with the phobic object or situation. It is unknown whether this first encounter is necessary or if phobias can develop in people who are prone to them.

Types of Phobias

  • Specific Phobias: A specific phobia is characterized by extreme fear of an object or situation that is not harmful under general conditions, such as flying, heights, closed-in places or animals.
  • Social Phobias: A social phobia is an anxiety disorder in which a person has significant anxiety and discomfort related to a fear of being embarrassed, humiliated or scorned by others in social or performance situations. Social phobias often happen with public speaking, meeting new people, dealing with authority figures, eating in public or using public restrooms.
  • Agoraphobia: This anxiety disorder involves the fear of experiencing a panic attack in a place or situation from which escape may be difficult or embarrassing. People with agoraphobia typically avoid crowded places like streets, crowded stores, churches and theaters.

Treating Phobias

Treatment of phobias may include psychotherapy, medication or a combination of the two. A Crozer-Keystone behavioral health specialist can help you determine if you have a phobia and decide on the best treatment plan.