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Overcoming Phobias

A phobia is “an intense or irrational fear of specific situations or things.”  A phobia may develop over time, or can occur after a traumatic or disturbing incident. Fears are common in daily life, but the fear is a phobia if it interferes with your routine and functioning, as well as if the fear produces panic symptoms. Anxiety is symptomatic of a phobia, and panic attacks, racing heart, sweating, dizziness, and trouble breathing can often occur when an individual is faced with phobic stimuli. If you are experiencing any combination of these symptoms, a consultation with your family doctor or a psychologist may be warranted.

There are five subcategories of Specific Phobia, which include fear of:

  • Certain Animals (mice or spiders)
  • Natural Environment (storms, heights, water)
  • Blood Injury (injections, blood)
  • Situations (elevators, enclosed spaces)
  • Choking or Vomiting

As a phobia persists, the individual may avoid the stimulus, and their phobic symptoms increase with time. However, it is nearly impossible to avoid phobic stimuli in our world. There are proven, effective psychological treatments for Specific Phobia. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is very effective in treating phobias, as well as other therapies such as exposure. Exposure therapy is used with relaxation exercises, to gradually expose clients to their phobias and to help them cope and overcome their fears. Certain medications may also be effective in overcoming phobias and the related anxious symptoms. For more information, consult the references at the end of this article, or contact 1-888-245-5516 to meet with a therapist who specializes in the treatment of phobias.


1. American Psychological Association (2012). Anxiety Disorders and Stress. Retrieved from

2. Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (2012). Anxiety Disorders. Retrieved from

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