A specific phobia is an overwhelming fear of objects or situations that is much more intense than what the average person might expect.
Some examples include
- Animals (e.g., dogs), insects (e.g., spiders,) or snakes
- Needles or injections
- Enclosed spaces (aka claustrophobia)
This is not a complete list, as there are many others, such as choking, water, storms, or loud noises.
People with phobias will go out of their way to avoid the feared object or situation, sometimes at a great cost to doing things they want to be doing. Encounters with phobias may trigger extreme anxiety and even panic attacks. For people with needle/injection or blood phobias, exposure to triggers may cause people to pass out. While phobias can sometime be caused by specific life events, people often develop these fears without any apparent cause, even up through adulthood. For these reasons, phobias may create additional distress because they don’t make sense or respond to trying to reason them away, and many people experience shame and embarrassment about them.
Treatment of specific phobias require a deliberate and structured approach and they typically don’t go away with traditional talk therapy. However, a therapist with the right expertise (like we have in our anxiety clinic) can usually help a great deal in just a handful of sessions. Contact us at the Portland Psychotherapy Anxiety Clinic if you want to explore whether we can help.