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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 phobia symptoms and signs?
Symptoms of phobias often involve having a panic attack -- in that they include feelings of intense fear, dread, or terror, despite understanding that those feelings are out of proportion to any real threat -- in addition to physical symptoms like tremors, sweating, "mind going blank," nausea, rapid heartbeat, trouble breathing, and an overwhelming desire to withdraw from the situation that is causing the phobic reaction. Also, extreme measures are sometimes taken to prevent or leave the situation.
How do health-care professionals diagnose phobias?
Many health-care providers may assess for the diagnosis of phobias, including licensed mental-health therapists, family doctors, or other primary-care medical providers, specialists whom you see for a medical condition, psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers. If one of these practitioners suspects that you may have a phobia, you will likely be asked a number of questions to explore all the symptoms you may be having and you may need to have a medical interview and physical examination. A phobia may co-occur with a number of other mental-health problems, including schizophrenia, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and substance-abuse disorders.
Phobias are particularly associated with other anxiety disorders. In addition to panic disorder, examples of other anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In children, school phobia or a fear of being alone may occur with or without separation anxiety disorder. As anxiety disorders in general may co-occur with a number of medical conditions or can be a reaction to various medications, routine laboratory tests are often done during the initial evaluation to rule out other possible causes of the symptoms.