Mental health articles

OF mental health care and mentally ill

Specific (isolated) phobias and diagnosis

These are circumscribed fears of specific objects or situations. Some community samples have shown an annual prevalence as high as 9% in the general population. Most phobias start in childhood, but situational phobias have a second peak of onset among people in their middle 20s. Particular types of phobias seem to aggregate in families, with some evidence of biological predisposition. Other predisposing factors include traumatic events that affected the patient or were observed in others, and repeated warnings from others about situations. Phobias that persist into adult life usually have a chronic course.

Specific (isolated) phobias and diagnosis

Extreme, persistent and unreasonable fear

Cued by appearance or anticipation of specific object or situation

Specific objects include Animals (spiders, snakes)

Natural environment (heights, water, storms)

Blood, injections, injury (may provoke particularly strong vasovagal response with fainting)

Specific situations (driving, flying, tunnels, lifts, bridges, rivers, enclosed spaces)

Avoidance of situation often with secondary fear of the phobia itself (phobophobia)

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