What is a Phobia

Overview of What Phobias Are

July 21, 2010

When someone is suffering from a particular phobia they are afraid. Their fear is actually very limited to the specific object, or situation, that the person is fearful of.

Having this explanation may not make it any easier to understand what exactly a phobia is. Therefore, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is produced by the American Psychiatric Association has created a few different criteria that need to be met in order to help determine if someone can be diagnosed with a specific phobia. The following information should be taken into consideration if someone is concerned that he, or she, may be dealing with a phobia of any kind.

1. The person will have an increase in fear that is persistent. It may actually be relatively excessive and it will also be unreasonable for the given trigger, or situation. These feelings will develop when the person is in the presence of the trigger, or the person is anticipating being near the trigger, or placed in the specific situation.
2. When the individual comes into contact with the trigger, or stimulus, they will automatically become very anxious and begin to have negative reactions. For example, if we are talking about small children, they may begin to cry, or have a tantrum.
3. Individuals that are placed in these situations will be able identify, and recognize that their reactions, and responses, are not healthy and they may be a little severe.
4. When the situation is actually endured the person will suffer a great deal of stress and anxiety. There may also be times when the situation, or stimuli, will be avoided all together.
5. The individual has a very difficult time following through with what is expected of him, or her, because the fear, and anxiety, is so intense that it actually interferes with the person’s life. This means that relationships, and even occupations, may be effected in negative ways.
6. When the person is under the age of 18, it is very important to understand that the symptoms need to be present for at least six months in order for a diagnosis to be given.
7. The anxiety that is experienced can not be explained better by another mental health issue like obsessive compulsive disorder or a social phobia.