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What are Phobias?

Fear is a normal human response to a perceived danger or threat. It is an emotion that we all experience at times in our lives, and is something that can keep us cautious in situations of uncertainty. However, when you experience an overwhelming and pervasive fear of a particular situation or object, when that situation or object poses little actual danger or threat, you may be experiencing a phobia.

Unlike brief anxiety that many people experience when faced with uncertainty, such as taking a test or public speaking, a phobia is long-lasting and causes intense physical and mental health reactions. When you experience a phobia, you are typically unable to function normally.

There are many different kinds of phobias, including phobias to animals, natural environment, blood-injection-injury, situation, and other. Phobias usually develop in childhood, but can be experienced throughout one’s life. Phobias develop for different reasons, including experiencing a traumatic event, witnessing a traumatic event, an unexpected panic attack in a feared situation, or information given to you by media or others. However, most of the time, people are unable to recall what triggered their phobia.


People who have a phobia typically display the following common symptoms:

  • Fear, anxiety, and active avoidance that:
    • is about a specific situation or object
    • Is immediately triggers when exposed to the specific situation or object
    • is out of proportion to the actual danger posed
    • is persistent, lasting for more than 6 months
    • causes clinically significant distress or impairment in your social, work, and personal life
  • The disturbance is not better explained by the symptoms of another health condition


If you are suffering from the distressing symptoms of a phobia, counselling with a mental health professional who is trained in your unique challenges may be able to help you develop positive strategies to manage your fears, develop strong self-confidence, reduce the impact that the phobia has on your life, and improve your quality of life. Please contact us.


Mayo Clinic. (2014). Phobias.
Retrieved from

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.

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