(Specific Phobia; Simple Phobia)
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
A phobia is an intense fear to an object or situation. There are 3 main groups of phobias:
The cause is not known. Genetics, the environment, and stressors may play a role.
Phobias are more common in women. Other things that may raise the risk are:
Symptoms happen when a person is exposed to the object or situation that they fear. The fear may become more intense if the person cannot easily get away from it.
Mental health problems may be:
Physical problems may be:
You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. This is often enough to make the diagnosis. Tests are not needed.
The goal of treatment is to ease symptoms and improve quality of life. More than 1 treatment may be needed. Choices are:
Therapies that may be helpful are:
The doctor may give:
There are no current guidelines to prevent phobias. The cause is not known.
American Psychiatric Association
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
Anxiety Disorders Association of Canada
Canadian Psychiatric Association
Agoraphobia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/agoraphobia. Accessed September 4, 2020.
Overview of anxiety disorders. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/psychiatric-disorders/anxiety-and-stressor-related-disorders/overview-of-anxiety-disorders. Accessed September 4, 2020.
Phobias. Mental Health America website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed September 4, 2020.
Social anxiety disorder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/social-anxiety-disorder. Accessed September 4, 2020.
Specific phobia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/specific-phobia. Accessed September 4, 2020.
Last reviewed March 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD
Last Updated: 2/19/2021