Skip Nav

Medical Definition of Phobia

Navigation menu

❶Even though the concept of mice causes marked distress and impairment within the individual, because the individual does not usually encounter mice, no actual distress or impairment is ever experienced. Treating agoraphobia is more difficult than other phobias because there are often so many fears involved, such as open spaces, traffic, elevators, and escalators.

Other Psychology Terms

Word Origin

Specifically, the removal of these lobes results in decreased fear, confirming its role in fear recognition and response. Bilateral damage to the medial temporal lobes, which is known as Urbach—Wiethe disease, exhibits similar symptoms of decreased fear and aggression, but also an inability to recognize emotional expressions, especially angry or fearful faces.

While lesions in the amygdala can inhibit its ability to recognize fearful stimuli, other areas such as the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and the basolateral nuclei of the amygdala can affect the region's ability to not only become conditioned to fearful stimuli, but to eventually extinguish them.

The basolateral nuclei, through receiving stimulus info, undergo synaptic changes that allow the amygdala to develop a conditioned response to fearful stimuli. Lesions in this area, therefore, have been shown to disrupt the acquisition of learned responses to fear. This suggests there is a pathway or circuit among the amygdala and nearby cortical areas that process emotional stimuli and influence emotional expression, all of which can be disrupted when an area becomes damaged.

It is recommended that the terms distress and impairment take into account the context of the person's environment during diagnosis. The DSM-IV-TR states that if a feared stimulus, whether it be an object or a social situation, is absent entirely in an environment, a diagnosis cannot be made. An example of this situation would be an individual who has a fear of mice but lives in an area devoid of mice.

Even though the concept of mice causes marked distress and impairment within the individual, because the individual does not usually encounter mice, no actual distress or impairment is ever experienced. It is recommended that proximity to, and ability to escape from, the stimulus also be considered. As the phobic person approaches a feared stimulus, anxiety levels increase, and the degree to which the person perceives they might escape from the stimulus affects the intensity of fear in instances such as riding an elevator e.

There are various methods used to treat phobias. These methods include systematic desensitization , progressive relaxation, virtual reality , modeling, medication and hypnotherapy.

Cognitive behavioral therapy CBT can be beneficial by allowing the patient to challenge dysfunctional thoughts or beliefs by being mindful of their own feelings, with the aim that the patient will realize that his or her fear is irrational. CBT may be conducted in a group setting.

Gradual desensitization treatment and CBT are often successful, provided the patient is willing to endure some discomfort. CBT is also an effective treatment for phobias in children and adolescents, and has been adapted for use with this age.

This treatment program can be used with children between the ages of 7 and 13 to treat social phobia. This program works to decrease negative thinking, increase problem solving and provide a functional coping outlook in the child. This program has five stages: Psychoeducation focuses on identifying and understanding symptoms.

Skill Building focuses on learning cognitive restructuring, social skills and problem solving skills. Problem Solving focuses on identifying problems and using a proactive approach to solving them. Exposure involves exposing the adolescent to social situations in a hierarchical approach. Finally, Generalization and Maintenance involves practicing the skills learned. Peer-reviewed clinical trials have demonstrated that eye movement desensitization and reprocessing EMDR is effective in treating some phobias.

Mainly used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder , EMDR has been demonstrated as effective in easing phobia symptoms following a specific trauma, such as a fear of dogs following a dog bite.

Another method used to treat patients with extreme phobias is prolonged exposure, in which the patient is exposed to the object of their fear over a long period of time. This technique is only tested [ clarification needed ] when a person has overcome avoidance of, or escape from, the feared object or situation. People with slight distress from their phobias usually do not need prolonged exposure to their fear. A method used in the treatment of a phobia is systematic desensitization , a process in which the patients seeking help slowly become accustomed to their phobia, and ultimately overcome it.

Traditional systematic desensitization involves a person being exposed to the object they are afraid of over time, so that the fear and discomfort do not become overwhelming. This controlled exposure to the anxiety-provoking stimulus is key to the effectiveness of exposure therapy in the treatment of specific phobias.

It has been shown that humor is an excellent alternative when traditional systematic desensitization is ineffective. Progressive muscle relaxation helps patients relax their muscles before and during exposure to the feared object or phenomenon. Participant modeling, in which the therapist models how the patient should respond to fears, has been proven effective for children and adolescents. In a manner similar to systematic desensitization, phobic patients are gradually introduced to their feared objects.

The main difference between participant modeling and systematic desensitization involves observations and modeling; participant modeling encompasses a therapist modeling and observing positive behaviors over the course of gradual exposure to the feared object. Virtual reality therapy is another technique that helps phobic people confront a feared object. It uses virtual reality to generate scenes that may not have been possible or ethical in the physical world.

It offers some advantages over systematic desensitization therapy. People can control the scenes and endure more exposure than they might handle in reality. Virtual reality is more realistic than simply imagining a scene—the therapy occurs in a private room and the treatment is efficient. Medications can help regulate apprehension and fear of a particular fearful object or situation.

SSRIs antidepressants act on serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain. Since serotonin impacts mood, patients may be prescribed an antidepressant. Sedatives such as benzodiazepines may also be prescribed, which can help patients relax by reducing the amount of anxiety they feel. Beta blockers are another medicinal option as they may stop the stimulating effects of adrenaline, such as sweating, increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, tremors and the feeling of a pounding heart.

Hypnotherapy can be used alone and in conjunction with systematic desensitization to treat phobias. The phobia may be caused by a past event that the patient does not remember, a phenomenon known as repression.

The mind represses traumatic memories from the conscious mind until the person is ready to deal with them. Hypnotherapy may also eliminate the conditioned responses that occur during different situations. Patients are first placed into a hypnotic trance, an extremely relaxed state [43] in which the unconscious can be retrieved. This state makes patients more open to suggestion, which helps bring about desired change. Phobias are a common form of anxiety disorder , and distributions are heterogeneous by age and gender.

Between 4 percent and 10 percent of all children experience specific phobias during their lives, [12] and social phobias occur in one percent to three percent of children and adolescents. A Swedish study found that females have a higher incidence than males The word phobia comes from the Greek: In popular culture, it is common for specific phobias to have names based on a Greek word for the object of the fear, plus the suffix -phobia. Creating these terms is something of a word game.

Few of these terms are found in medical literature. The word phobia may also refer to conditions other than true phobias. For example, the term hydrophobia is an old name for rabies , since an aversion to water is one of that disease's symptoms. A specific phobia to water is called aquaphobia instead. A hydrophobe is a chemical compound that repels water.

Similarly, the term photophobia usually refers to a physical complaint aversion to light due to inflamed eyes or excessively dilated pupils , rather than an irrational fear of light. A number of terms with the suffix -phobia are used non-clinically. Usually these kinds of "phobias" are described as fear, dislike, disapproval, prejudice , hatred , discrimination or hostility towards the object of the "phobia".

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the clinical psychology. For other uses, see Phobia disambiguation. American Psychiatric Publishing, pp. The Psychiatric clinics of North America. Archived from the original on 27 July Retrieved 27 July Archived from the original on 14 July Retrieved 26 July Diseases of the Human Body.

Archived from the original on Retrieved April 25, Journal of Abnormal Psychology. Archived PDF from the original on National Institutes of Health. A review with emphasis on the neurobiological influences". Exploring the Brain 3rd ed. Monitor on Psychology, August Psychotherapy by reciprocal inhibition PDF. Behaviour Research and Therapy. Mastering your fears and phobias,. Child-focused treatment of anxiety. Treatment of social anxiety disorder. A casebook for clinical practice 2nd ed.

Journal of anxiety disorders. A Rapid Treatment For Phobias". B; Higbee, G; Murdock, S. Journal of General Psychology. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. The Stages of Lung Cancer. Who's at Risk for Hepatitis C? When is Binge Eating a Disorder? A Normal Part of Aging?

Schizophrenia and Mental Health. The Effects of Multiple Sclerosis. What Is Ulcerative Colitis? Choose the Right Birth Control. What is Deep Vein Thrombosis? Put an End to Nail Fungus. How Much is Enough? Shocking Diseases of the Mouth. The Stigma of Psoriasis. Guide to Understanding Cancer. Beware of Diabetes Foot Dangers.

Main Topics

Privacy Policy

simple phobia specific phobia. social phobia an anxiety disorder characterized by fear and avoidance of social or performance situations in which the individual fears possible embarrassment and humiliation, for example, fear of speaking, performing, or eating in public.

Privacy FAQs

phobia - an anxiety disorder characterized by extreme and irrational fear of simple things or social situations; "phobic disorder is a general term for all phobias" phobic disorder, phobic neurosis anxiety disorder - a cover term for a variety of mental disorders in which severe anxiety is a salient symptom.

About Our Ads

Phobia definition is - an exaggerated usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation. How to use phobia in a sentence. an exaggerated usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation. word-forming element meaning "excessive or irrational fear of," from Latin -phobia and directly from Greek -phobia "panic fear of," from phobos "fear" (see phobia). In widespread popular use with native words from c

Cookie Info

-phobia definition, a combining form meaning “fear,” occurring in loanwords from Greek (hydrophobia); on this model, used in the names of mental disorders that have the general sense “dread of, aversion toward” that specified by the initial element: agoraphobia. Phobia: An unreasonable sort of fear that can cause avoidance and panic. Phobias are a relatively common type of anxiety disorder. Phobias can be treated with cognitive behavioral therapy, using exposure and fear-reduction techniques.