Phobias - Cause

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What are the causes and risk factors for phobias?

While there is no one specific known cause for phobias, it is thought that phobias run in families, are influenced by culture and how one is parented, and can be triggered by a number of different life events. Immediate family members of people with phobias are about three times more likely to also suffer from 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 have been found to be more likely to manage stress by avoiding the stressful situation and by having difficulty minimizing the intensity of the fearful situation. Another possible contributor to the development of phobias is classical conditioning. As it relates to phobias, in classical conditioning, a person responds to something frightening by generalizing the fear of that specific object or situation to more generalized objects or situations. For example, an individual may respond to a real threat by one dog to a fear of all dogs.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: NikkiM0923, 13-18 Female (Patient) Published: January 11

I have a phobia of Water ever since an accident when I was ten. I was on a boat that had different levels. I was on the third level and reading. Just because I didn't want to jump like everyone else. Too many people on one side on the first or second level and it flipped. I went to jump off and my leg got caught in a rope. I couldn't go. Finally when I was untangled from the rope the boat had flipped and sunk all the way and I was trapped. Ever since then the only water I can go near is water in my house. Baths and drinking and sink water.

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Comment from: Ridley, 25-34 Male (Patient) Published: August 09

I have an extreme phobia of dogs. Ever since I was bitten on the arm by a 150lb great dane, I've feared and hated dogs. Just the sight of a dog is enough to put me in a panic attack.

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