A phobia is a type of anxiety.  It is a strong, irrational fear of something that poses little or no actual danger.  In some cases phobias become so excessive they interfere with day to day life.

Phobias are largely under-reported, probably because many phobia sufferers find ways to avoid the situations they fear.  Phobias are fairly common.  In fact, it is estimated that 28 out of every 100 people have a phobia.  Women tend to be twice as likely to suffer from a phobia than men.

There are many specific phobias: acrophobia is a fear of heights; agoraphobia is a fear of public places; and claustrophobia is a fear of closed-in places.  If you become anxious and extremely self-conscious in everyday social situations, you could have a social phobia.  Other common phobias involve: tunnels, highway driving, water, flying, animals and blood.


People with phobias try to avoid what they are afraid of, if they cannot, they may experience:

  • Panic and fear
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Trembling
  • A strong desire to get away


People with severe phobias may find brief psychotherapy helpful.  But, phobia sufferers can also take steps themselves to overcome their fears by:

1. Talking about their fears,
2. Refraining from avoiding situations they find stressful,
3. Imagining themselves facing their fears (visualization), and
4. Making positive self-statements like, “I will be OK.”
In fact, when self-help approaches are combined with brief psychotherapy, people with phobias may achieve significant improvement in symptoms.

If you have a phobia and would like to address your fears, contact one of the iTherapy counselors.

See Also

  • Self-Assessment