Specific Phobia

Plane in skyA person with a specific phobia (SP) experiences intense fear and distress when they are exposed to a specific feared situation or object, which either leads them to avoid the situation/object or face the situation with intense distress.

This anxiety may be in the form of a panic attack - a discrete period of intense and sudden fear, apprehension or terror, with physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, blushing, trembling, sweating and faintness.
There are five major categories of specific fears:
  • Animals (e.g. dogs, birds, spiders, snakes)
  • Natural environment (e.g. heights, storms)                                             
  • Blood, injection or injury (e.g. receiving an injection)
  • Situations (e.g. elevators, enclosed spaces, flying)
  • Other (e.g. fear of vomiting or getting ill)

Who gets a Specific Phobia?

Different types of specific phobias tend to develop at different life stages; for example a phobia of animals, blood and water tends to develop in early childhood, whereas a phobia of heights tends to develop in adolescence.

Influences on the development of specific phobias include:

  • Childhood fears that are not resolved
  • Parents having similar phobias
  • Exposure to a stressful or traumatic situation like a natural disaster or a bite by an animal.

Last Updated : 22-Sep-2013