URL of this page: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/phobias.html

Phobias

Summary

A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder. It is a strong, irrational fear of something that poses little or no real danger.

There are many specific phobias. Acrophobia is a fear of heights. Agoraphobia is a fear of public places, and claustrophobia is a fear of closed-in places. If you become anxious and extremely self-conscious in everyday social situations, you could have a social phobia. Other common phobias involve tunnels, highway driving, water, flying, animals and blood.

People with phobias try to avoid what they are afraid of. If they cannot, they may experience

  • Panic and fear
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Trembling
  • A strong desire to get away

Phobias usually start in children or teens, and continue into adulthood. The causes of specific phobias are not known, but they sometimes run in families.

Treatment helps most people with phobias. Options include medicines, therapy or both.

NIH: National Institute of Mental Health

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