It is a persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that leads to a compelling desire to avoid it. The word phobia comes from the Greek, Phóbos, meaning ‘fear’ or ‘morbid fear’.
Common symptoms associated with phobias include:
A sense of unreality
Fear of dying
Most phobias are classified into three categories. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), these phobias are considered to be sub-types of anxiety disorder.
The Three Types of Phobias
Social phobias—fear of social situations.
Agoraphobia—fear of being trapped in an inescapable place or situation.
Specific phobias—fear of a specific object. There are four major types of specific phobias: the natural environment, animals, medical, situational.
Phobias vary in severity. Some people can simply avoid the subject of their fear and suffer relatively mild anxiety over that fear. Others suffer full-fledged panic attacks with all the associated disabling symptoms. Most individuals understand that they are suffering from an irrational fear, but are powerless to override their panic reaction.