A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder where an individual has an overwhelming and debilitating fear of an object, place, situation, feeling or animal.

Most of us have fears about certain situations. However, phobias are more intense than fears. They develop when a person has an exaggerated or unrealistic sense of danger about a situation or object (NHS, 2021). If a phobia becomes severe, it may impact a person’s ability to live a normal life, as they may organise their life around avoiding the trigger that causes them anxiety (NHS, 2021).

Phobias can be grouped into two categories, specific phobias and complex phobias (such as social anxiety and agoraphobia). If you are looking for information about a complex phobia, we have other sections which address these difficulties.

Common specific phobias include:

  • Blood-injury
  • Vomiting
  • Needles
  • Heights
  • Deep water
  • Flying
  • Animals e.g. spiders, rodents, birds
  • Situation phobias e.g. visiting the dentist

Signs & Symptoms:

  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Nausea
  • Shaking
  • Numbness or tingling

These signs and symptoms can lead to people avoiding situations in which they might be exposed to any situations in which they might be exposed to their phobia. This makes their fear worse over time and people may feel anxious even at the thought of exposure to their phobia.

Support available:

Mind have a page of self-help resources specifically for people struggling with phobias.

No More Panic provides valuable information for sufferers and carers of people with panic, anxiety, phobias and obsessive compulsive disorders (OCD). Its purpose is to provide members with support, advice and a chance to meet like-minded people and make friends along the way.

If a phobia is significantly impacting your quality of life, you can speak to your GP who can explore what treatment options might be available to you.

Psychological therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can help people to address their phobia. Visit our service lookup here to see if we deliver a talking therapy service in your local area. Alternatively, you can visit the NHS website here and enter your postcode to find your local service.