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Symptoms of Phobia

Phobia, also known as specific phobia, is a very common anxiety disorder, with approximately 6% of Americans meeting criteria for the diagnosis in any given year. A phobia is an excessive fear of some kind of an object (such as blood) or a situation (like air travel) that gives rise to an excessive amount of anxiety and fear. Phobias are perhaps the most easily treated psychological problem, with upwards of 90% of people responding favorably to treatment after only 10 sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy. However, to obtain the best treatment, it is important to receive an accurate diagnosis from a mental health provider, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist. Following are symptoms of specific phobia:

  • Significant fear and/or anxiety about a specific stimulus. This can include a wide variety of things, such as heights, blood, needles, animals, etc.
  • The response to the feared stimulus should be predictable, in that it is usually of the same intensity, and that it is a similar object or situation that provokes the fear.
  • Due to the anxiety, the feared stimulus is actively avoided, or if it is not avoided, it is endured with intense fear.
  • The fear must be significantly more intense than the stimulus warrants. For instance, a fear and/or avoidance of spiders when the spider is not dangerous, or an intense fear/avoidance of riding in cars due to chance of a car accident. Both of these responses are considered out of proportion to the actual level of threat each of these stimuli presents.    
  • For a diagnosis, the fear must be present for at least six months.
  • The fear causes significant functional deficits (such as not leaving the house, not being able to visit family members with pets, or avoiding doctor visits), or significant distress, such as overwhelming fear or panic symptoms.

If you believe you may have some of these symptoms, it is important to consider getting treatment. At Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Los Angeles, we specialize in treatment for anxiety disorders, such as phobias. Call or email today to schedule an appointment.