Phobias are very common.  In fact, most people have some type of phobia.  Being frightened of things like insects, heights and needles is part of being human.  But when this fear is extreme, preventing you from doing things you want to do or go places you want to go, you may have a specific phobia disorder.

Specific phobias can be about almost anything, in fact if you search on the internet for a list, there are literally hundreds!  However here are some of the most common types:

  • Animals: dogs, cats mice, rats birds, snakes, insects
  • Things that occur in the natural environment: heights, water, thunderstorms, or lightening
  • Situations and places: traveling in a car, plane, bus, train, or boat; closed-in spaces such as closets and tunnels
  • Medical issues: injuries, blood, needles, dentists, doctors, hospitals
  • Illness and bodily functions: vomiting, stomach flu, food poisoning, choking on pills or food, having a dry or closed throat, not being able to breath

One of the more common phobias that I treat is a fear of vomiting, which is technically called emetophobia.  No one likes to throw up, but if you have this phobia your fear of vomiting is out of proportion.  If people around you get sick, including family members, you may become extremely anxious that you will get the stomach flu.  People with this phobia will often monitor their body carefully for signs of nausea.  This, like other specific phobias can cause significant disruption in one’s life.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps people to face their fears in a gradual and supportive way. CBT is one of the most effective treatments for phobias, most people report feeling significantly less fearful after only 12 sessions or less.

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