What is a phobia?

What is a phobia?

We all feel fear, it is inbuilt into our very nature. Afterall if man is to survive we must know, and react to danger. But a phobia goes beyond this rational, logical self-preservation device... A phobia is an irrational, persistent fear of things or situations that far exceeds the danger.

The source of the fear can create a strong panic reaction when present, but in many instances it can actually create feelings and symptoms at times where the phobia sufferer is not presented physically with the object of their fear. A sufferer may experience symptoms when faced with thoughts, images or possibilities that are not fully present. This is what differentiates 'fear' from 'phobia'.

A phobia sufferer may also experience symptoms that impinge upon daily life and irational thoughts or feelings that lead to comorbid anxiety disorders

Symptoms can include:

  • Sweating  
  • Increased heart beat 
  • Breathing difficulties.
  • Light headedness
  • Dry mouth
  • Extreme fear
  • Racing dead end thoughts
  • Nausea
  • Increased urination/bowel movements

Many people experience symptoms of fear that do not need treatment and do not intrude in their life or those of people around them, it is of course natural to feel unnerved by heights or snakes for example, we as creatures were made to feel fear to survive, but a phobia goes a step beyond this into the troublesome and irrational.

We have many features and articles that can help you understand more about anxiety, fear and phobias, including specific articles about arachnophobia, social phobia, emetophobia, agorophobia and many more. Please see our phobias section, and if you feel you need extra help, our counselling directory can help you find a professional in your area.

If you have a phobia or suffer any anxiety disorder our 'Overcoming Anxiety' programme can help you.

Further reading


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