Specific Phobia

What is Specific Phobia?


Specific Phobias involve an overwhelming fear of an object, place, situation, feeling or animal. When we encounter our phobia, we may experience intense fear and believe we cannot cope. As a result, when we have a phobia, we may try to avoid what we are afraid of, or employ safety strategies if we are unable to avoid. We may be able to recognise our fear is unreasonable, but encounter difficulties trying to overcome this ourselves.


When we encounter extreme fear we may notice the following sensations in our body: 

  • Palpitations (noticeable change in heart rate)
  • Shaking
  • Sweating (hot flushes)
  • Chills
  • Shortness of breath
  • Light-headedness (feeling dizzy)
  • Numbness or pins and needles
  • Tingling sensations
  • Churning stomach
  • Ringing in the ears
  • A need to use the toilet


There are many different types of phobias, some examples include:

  • Animal phobias-  examples include the fear of snakes, spiders, insects, dogs
  • Environment phobias- examples include the fear of heights, storms or water
  • Situational phobias- examples include the fear travelling in a car, travelling on public transport, being in a lift, being in a confined space, flying
  • Blood injury phobias- examples include injections, blood tests, injury, seeing blood, invasive medical procedures
  • Feeling/sensation- examples include vomiting, having an accident
  • Other- examples include fear of clowns, fear of loud sounds, fear of falling

We can experience phobias relating to anything as such relates to our thoughts about what we fear, our phobia.

Impact on Functioning


As with all mental health conditions, for some people the condition impacts many areas of their lives and this is evident, this is something we can see, for example the impact can be on our:

  • Relationships
  • Routine daily activities
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Work/education
  • Social life

However, for some people we cannot evidently see their difficulties, they may be attending work, engaging socially, continuing their usual activities. In clinic we use a metaphor of a duck swimming on a pond. We can seem to be moving without effort, gliding through life, just like the duck on the water. However, while we may appear fine on appearance, we can be paddling very hard underwater, struggling where people cannot see. No matter the visible impact upon your daily functioning, we are here to support you to overcome the current difficulties you are experiencing.



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