Phobias are irrational, often crippling, fears of particular places, situations, stimuli, or objects that pose no real threat. Like anxiety, many people fear particular situations, but when that fear extends into the extremes, to the point that it interferes with daily life, only then can a diagnosis of an anxiety disorder or phobia be made. However, phobias are separated from other anxiety disorders when that fear is concentrated around one particular thing. Facing the object of fear results in extreme anxiety, or even panic attacks in someone with a phobia. There is no single cause of phobias, and it is generally thought to be the result of a previous, exceedingly unpleasant experience with the object in question. There is some evidence that phobias can run in families, though this may be genetics or the result of learned behavior.

Symptoms of phobias generally follow that of panic attacks or an anxiety disorder, depending on how an individual reacts to the situation.

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What is the treatment for phobias?

The degree of treatment for a phobia usually depends on the severity of the distress, and the frequency it is encountered in daily life. If avoidance of the phobia interferes with daily life or careers, treatment for the phobia is the best course of action. Psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy has been highly successful.

We can work out a treatment plan of medication and psychotherapy that is best for you. Having a support system of trusted friends and family is also important. Loved ones should be supportive of someone suffering from anxiety, but not perpetuate the symptoms, demand immediate improvement, or trivialize the disorder.

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