Phobias (cont.)

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

What is the prognosis for phobias?

Cognitive therapy and exposure therapy alone, together, or combined with relaxation training have been found to be effective in treating phobias. Relaxation training alone has also been found to be helpful in treating phobias. While some interventions, like sedating people who are phobic about getting dental work, may be useful in the short term, they may undermine truly overcoming the phobia.

How are phobias prevented?

Prevention programs that involve educating people, their loved ones, and other involved individuals like children's teachers have been found to be effective in preventing phobias from occurring in the first place.

How can people cope with phobias?

Reader Stories

Ways that phobia sufferers can work toward overcoming their fears include talking about their fears, refraining from avoiding situations they find stressful, imagining themselves facing their fears (visualization), and making positive self-statements like, "I will be OK." In fact, when self-help approaches are combined with brief psychotherapy, people with phobias may achieve significant improvement in symptoms.

Where can people get information and help for phobias?

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

American Counseling Association

American Psychiatric Association

American Psychological Association

Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Freedom From Fear

National Association of Social Workers

National Mental Health Association

National Panic/Anxiety Disorder News, Inc.

The future

Research studies are focused upon how well phobias respond to various treatments over the course of years as well as how age-related changes in thinking ability (cognition) may interact with anxiety. The use of herbal and other dietary supplements in the treatment of phobias is being explored as well.

Medically reviewed by Marina Katz, MD; American Board of Psychiatry & Neurology


Albert, C.M., C.U. Chae, K.M. Rexrode, et al. "Phobic Anxiety and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease and Sudden Cardiac Death Among Women." Circulation 111 (2005): 480-487.

Anxiety Matters. Phobia List: A List of Phobia Names From A to Z. <>. 2008.

Aune, T., and T.C. Stiles. "Universal-based prevention of syndromal and subsyndromal social anxiety: A randomized controlled study." Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 77.5 Oct. 2009: 867-879.

Davey, G.C., I. Burgess, and R. Rashes. "Coping Strategies and Phobias: The Relationship Between Fears, Phobias and Methods of Coping With Stressors." British Journal of Clinical Psychology 34.3 Sept. 1995: 423-434.

Davidson, J.R.T., D.L. Hughes, L.K. George, and D.G. Blazer. "The epidemiology of social phobia: findings from the Duke Epidemiological Catchment Area Study." Psychological Medicine 1993: 709-718.

Forbes, M.D., C.A. Boyle, and T. Newton. "Acceptability of behaviour therapy for dental phobia." Community Dent Oral Epidemiol 40.1 Feb. 2012: 1-7.

Fernandes, P.P. "Rapid Desensitization for Needle Phobia." Psychosomatics 44 June 2003: 253-254.

Gersley, E. "Phobias: Causes and Treatments." All Psych Journal 17 Nov. 2001. <>.

Kawachi, I., G.A. Colditz, A. Ascherio, et al. "Prospective Study of Phobic Anxiety and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Men." Circulation 89 (1994): 1992-1997.

Knappe, S., K. Beesdo, L. Fehm, et al. "Associations of Familial Risk Factors With Social Fears and Social Phobia: Evidence for the Continuum Hypothesis in Social Anxiety Disorder." Journal of Neural Transmission 116.6 June 2009: 639-648.

Leinonen, E., U. Lepola, H. Koponen, J. Turtonen, A. Wade, and H. Lehto. "Citalopram Controls Phobic Symptoms in Patients With Panic Disorder: Randomized Controlled Trial." Journal of Psychiatry Neuroscience 25.1 (2000): 25-32.

Lissek, S., J. Levenson, A. Biggs, et al. "Elevated Fear Conditioning to Socially Relevant Unconditioned Stimuli in Social Anxiety Disorder." American Journal of Psychiatry 165.1 Jan. 2008: 124-132.

Medical College of Wisconsin. Facing Fears: Most Patients Can Overcome Phobias. Feb. 26, 2007.

NIMH. Concerned Counseling. <>.

Norton, P.J., and E.C. Price. "A meta-analytic review of adult cognitive-behavioral treatment outcome across the anxiety disorders." The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 195.6 (2007): 521-531.

Parsons, T.D., and A.A. Rizzo. "Affective Outcomes of Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy for Anxiety and Specific Phobias: A Meta-Analysis." Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry 39 (2008): 250-261.

Pull, C. "Recent Trends in the Study of Specific Phobias." Current Opinion in Psychiatry 21.1 Jan. 2008: 43-50.

Rapee, R.M., M.J. Abbott, A.J. Baillie, and J.E. Gaston. "Treatment of Social Phobia Through Pure Self-Help and Therapist-Augmented Self-Help." The British Journal of Psychiatry 191 (2007): 246-252.

Saeed, S.A., R.M. Bloch, and D.J. Antonacci. "Herbal and Dietary Supplements for Treatment of Anxiety Disorders." American Family Physician 76.4 Aug. 2007: 549-556.

Schultz, S.K., D.J. Moser, J.R. Bishop, and V.L. Ellingrod. "Phobic Anxiety in Late-Life in Relationship to Cognition and 5HTTLPR Polymorphism." Psychiatric Genetics 15.4 Dec. 2005: 305-306.

Straube, T., M. Glauer, S. Dilger, H.J. Mentzel, and W.H. Miltner. "Effects of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy on Brain Activation in Specific Phobia." Neuroimaging 29.1 Jan. 1, 2006: 125-135.

Thomas, S.E., A.K. Thevos, and C.L. Randall. "Alcoholics With and Without Social Phobia: A Comparison of Substance Use and Psychiatric Variables." Journal of Studies on Alcohol 60 (1999).

Villafuerte, S., and M. Burmeister. "Untangling Genetic Networks of Panic, Phobia, Fear and Anxiety." Genome Biology 4.8 (2003): 224.

Walker, J.R., M.A. Van Ameringen, R. Swinson, R.C. Bowen, P.R. Chokka, E. Goldner, et al. "Prevention of Relapse in Generalized Social Phobia: Results of a 24-Week Study in Responders to 20 Weeks of Sertraline Treatment." Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology 20.6 Dec. 2000: 636-644.

Walkup, J.T., A.M. Albano, J. Piacentini, et al. "Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Sertraline, or a Combination in Childhood Anxiety." New England Journal of Medicine 359.26 Dec. 2008.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/21/2014

Phobias Picture Slideshow: What Are You Afraid Of?

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Phobias - Cause Question: What was the cause of your phobia?
Phobias - Symptoms Question: What were the symptoms of your phobia(s)?
Phobias - Treatment Question: What was the treatment for your phobia?
Phobias - Types Question: Describe your phobia, how it makes you feel, and if you've received treatment for it.
Phobias - Assessment Question: Discuss the tests, exams, and/or different doctors you saw to treat your phobia.
Phobias - Coping Question: Please share tips and suggestions for how to cope with your particular phobia.