Understanding Specific Phobias

Have you ever felt uneasy when riding the steep escalator at the DuPont Circle Metro Station or going to the dentist for a routine checkup? It’s quite normal to feel a bit uncomfortable in these situations, but most people are able to manage their fears and carry out these activities. However, about 5% of the population cannot manage these fears.

A specific phobia is a fear triggered by something. That something can be situations (airplane travel), natural environments (heights), blood injection type injuries (needles), animals (dogs, snakes, etc.), as well as other stimuli or experiences (clowns, choking, vomiting, etc.). The list goes on and on.

Phobias produce anxiety symptoms that severely impact one’s life functioning. Such symptoms include:

  • A defined condition that triggers the fear
  • Feelings of anxiety when exposed to the trigger
  • Insight that one’s anxiety is excessive (may not be present among children and some adolescents)
  • Avoidance of the feared condition, or endurance of it with severe distress
  • Marked distress interference with life’s routines or social, school, job, or other functioning caused by the feared condition.

Fortunately, the vast majority of people with specific phobias can be helped with professional care.

If you think that you or a loved one may be suffering from a specific phobia, contact us to schedule an intake session and find out more about Georgetown Psychology Associates.