What is specific phobia?
Specific phobias (often referred to simply as phobias) are disorders in which individuals have an excessive fear of a specific object, animal or situation.
People with specific phobias experience intense fear (sometimes full-blown panic) nearly every time they come in contact or anticipate coming in contact with the feared object or situation.
Tip: Click here to watch a presentation on how to recognize and understand anxiety disorders in college students.
People with phobias often make great efforts to avoid the feared object or situation (e.g., someone with a dog phobia will avoid walking down streets where they may encounter a dog). This avoidance can greatly interfere with activities.
Phobias typically fall into one of the following categories:
- Animal Type. Involves fear of animals (e.g., snakes or insects)
- Natural Environment Type. Involves fear of natural environmental objects or situations (e.g., heights, bodies of water, or storms)
- Blood-Injection-Injury Type. Involves fear of seeing blood, receiving an injection or other medical procedure
- Situational Type. Involves fears of everyday situations (e.g., tunnels, bridges, flying, driving, closed places, etc.)
- Other Type. Involves fear of situations not covered in the other categories (e.g., choking or vomiting)
Want to learn more about Specific Phobia?
Check out these resources:
- U-M Depression Toolkit
- Anxiety Disorders Association of America website
- National Institute of Mental Health website
Are you concerned that you may have a Specific Phobia?
See our resource database for a list of books, websites, and local options for seeking professional evaluations and treatment.