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- Phobia facts
- What is a phobia? What are the different kinds of phobias?
- What are the complications of phobias?
- What are the causes and risk factors for phobias?
- What are phobia symptoms and signs?
- How do health-care professionals diagnose phobias?
- What is the treatment for phobias?
- What is the prognosis for phobias?
- Is it possible to prevent phobias?
- How can people cope with phobias?
- Where can people get information and help for phobias?
- What research is being done on phobias?
Quick GuideWhat's Your Biggest Fear? Phobias
What are the complications of phobias?
If not treated, a phobia can worsen to the point in which the person's quality of life is seriously impaired, both by the phobia itself and/or by attempts to avoid or hide it. For example, a fear of flying can result in the sufferer being unable to travel. Some people have problems with their relationships, have failed in school, and/or been unable to maintain employment as the result of a severe phobia. While there may be periods of spontaneous improvement, a phobia does not usually go away unless the individual gets treatments that are specifically designed to address this condition. Alcoholics can be up to 10 times more likely to develop a phobia than nonalcoholics, and phobic individuals may be twice as likely to suffer from alcoholism or another addiction than those who have never been phobic. It has even been found that phobic anxiety can be life-threatening for some people, increasing the risk of suffering from heart disease in both men and women.
What are the causes and risk factors for phobias?
While there is no single known cause for phobias, they are thought to run in families, be influenced by culture and how one is parented, and can be triggered by different life events. Immediate family members of phobia sufferers are about three times more likely to also have a phobia than those who do not have such a family history. People whose parents either were overly protective or were distant in raising them may be at more risk of developing phobias. Phobia sufferers tend to be more likely to manage stress by avoiding the stressful situation and have trouble decreasing the intensity of the fearful situation. Another possible contributor to the development of phobias is classical conditioning. In classical conditioning, an individual responds to something that scares them by generalizing the fear of that specific thing or situation to more generalized things or situations. For example, a person may respond to a real threat by one dog to developing a phobia of all dogs.