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What are phobias? Understanding this type of anxiety disorder

What are phobias? Understanding this type of anxiety disorder

September 14, 2022

Specific phobias or simple phobias they refer to disproportionate fears when faced with specific stimuli. We can all have some kind of phobia to a greater or lesser degree or know someone who presents it.

In this article we'll see what phobias are and what symptoms and characteristics they present.

  • Related article: "Types of Anxiety Disorders and their characteristics"

What are phobias and how do they appear?

Throughout our lives, especially in childhood, a stage in which we still do not know how to manage emotions at all, situations in which there has been a high fear, a sense of disgust, an unexpected shock , etc., associated with an object, situation or living being, can be memorized or leave an imprint that maintains that association in our brain.


In that way the appearance of the associated stimulus or any other related to it, again generates the same feeling and in the same intensity as when we live the traumatic situation or unpleasant in the past.

Sometimes phobias can be so intense that they severely limit the lives of people who suffer from it; imagine a severe phobia of birds or any stimulus that is related to them, whether feathers, song, etc. This disproportionate fear will not allow this person to go out to the street normally, take a field trip or live in places close to nature.

Your guys

We can differentiate between the next types of phobias .


1. Animal type

They refer to a wide range of species, which can cause extreme fear to the child or adolescent, such as dogs or cats, certain types of insects or reptiles, worms , etc.

2. Environmental type

Fear of meteorological phenomena such as the rays and storms, the heights , etc.

3. Blood type, injections and damage

They suggest excessive fear or fear of objects, material and surgical procedures, so it will generate intense anticipatory anxiety before a blood test, going to the dentist, the gynecologist, going to hospitals. As well there may be intense fear at the sight of blood or wounds (hematofobia), etc.

  • Maybe you're interested: "Blood phobia: everything there is to know about hematophobia"

4. Situational type

As its name suggests, they take the form of a disproportionate and irrational fear of situations such as tunnels, bridges, elevators, buses, staying alone, darkness, etc.


Phobias they are a sample of the functioning of our survival system , tremendously powerful and related to our hormones and neurotransmitters in the brain. This intense memory of events experienced as dangerous, is the reaction of our body when it considers that it has to defend itself against that danger in the future.

Characteristics of these anxiety disorders

While fear is a proportionate reaction to the stimulus that triggers it, phobia is characterized by a disproportionate reaction of fear to stimuli or situations that do not entail a real danger .

Even when the person is aware that his fear is irrational and disproportionate he can not control the fear, triggering physiological reactions of anxiety like tachycardia, nausea, dizziness, hyperventilation, cold sweats , chills, knot in the stomach, etc.

The symptoms are so intense that many times situations where phobia can appear are avoided , to the point of limiting for everyday life.

Your treatment

Psychology has developed techniques to overcome phobias; especially successful is cognitive behavioral therapy , with techniques developed for the "desprendizaje" of anxiety such as systematic desensitization, gradual exposure and cognitive restructuring.

The latest Advanced Therapies such as EMDR or ICT are giving very positive results in overcoming phobias and traumas, being today one of the most effective and innovative treatments along with the techniques of cognitive-behavioral psychology.

From our experience in the field of mental health, in Advance Psychologists we have proven that this class of anxiety disorders can hardly be treated by going only to the logical and rational facet of the human mind . The focus of the alteration is on the way in which emotional memory is experienced, and therefore a complete therapeutic approach must especially affect this component.

Authors: Laura Palomares Pérez and Sofía Rodríguez de la Plaza.


Hypnotherapy : Natural Cures for Social Phobia (September 2022).


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