A phobia

Is a type of anxiety disorder, defined by a persistent fear of an object or situation. The phobia typically results in a rapid onset of fear and is present for more than six months. The affected person will go to great lengths to avoid the situation or object, typically to a degree greater than the actual danger posed. If the feared object or situation cannot be avoided, the affected person will have significant distress. With blood or injury phobia, fainting may occur. Agoraphobia is often associated with panic attacks. Usually a person has phobias to a number of objects or situations.

Phobias are grouped into the three categories of specific phobias, agoraphobia and social phobia. Specific phobias include fear of animals, situations and blood or injury. The most common fears are heights, snakes and spiders. Sometimes phobias are created by negative experience with the feared object but not always. Social phobia is fear of social situations and being judged in social situations. Agoraphobia is fear of outside situations especially leaving home.

Specific phobias are often treated with exposure therapy, a branch of cognitive behavioral therapy. In addition EMDR has been found to be effective for specific phobias. Specific phobias affect about 7% of people in the West and 3% of the people in the rest of the world. Social phobia affects about 7% of people in the United States and 1.5% of people in the rest of the world. Agoraphobia affects about 2.0% of people.