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Specific phobic disorder : Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

What is Specific phobic disorder?

Specific phobias are an overwhelming and unreasonable fear of objects or situations that pose little real danger but provoke anxiety and avoidance. Unlike the brief anxiety you may feel when giving a speech or taking a test, specific phobias are long lasting, cause intense physical and psychological reactions, and can affect your ability to function normally at work, at school or in social settings.

Specific phobias are among the most common anxiety disorders, and not all phobias need treatment. But if a specific phobia affects your daily life, several therapies are available that can help you work through and overcome your fears ? often permanently.

Specific phobic disorder belongs under the category of Anxiety disorder. There are different types of specific [phobias](https://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/specific-phobias), based on the object or situation feared, including: - **Animal [phobias](https://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/ss/slideshow-phobias)**: Examples include the fear of dogs, snakes, insects, or mice. Animal [phobias](https://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/rm-quiz-fears-phobias) are the most common specific phobias. - **Situational phobias**: These involve a fear of specific situations, such as flying, riding in a car or on public transportation, driving, going over bridges or in tunnels, or of being in a closed-in place, like an elevator. - **Natural environment phobias**: Examples include the fear of storms, heights, or water. - **[Blood](https://www.webmd.com/heart/anatomy-picture-of-blood)-injection-injury phobias**: These involve a fear of being injured, of seeing [blood](https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/rm-quiz-blood-basics) or of invasive medical procedures, such as blood tests or injections - **Other phobias**: These include a fear of falling down, a fear of loud sounds, and a fear of costumed characters, such as clowns. are some common types of Specific phobic disorder. Generally Male, Female, Child are the victim of the Specific phobic disorder. Seriousness of this disease is Medium.

Symptoms of Specific phobic disorder are :

  • upset stomach
  • elevated blood pressure
  • a choking sensation
  • Feeling an intense need to escape
  • Fear of losing control
  • feeling powerless to overcome from irrational fear
  • Dry mouth
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Anxiety
  • Speech difficulties
  • Speech disorders can affect the way a person creates sounds to form words. Certain voice disorders may also be considered speech disorders.

    One of the most commonly experienced speech disorders is stuttering. Other speech disorders include apraxia and dysarthria.

    • Apraxia is a motor speech disorder caused by damage to the parts of the brain related to speaking.
    • Dysarthria is a motor speech disorder in which the muscles of the mouth, face, or respiratory system may become weak or have difficulty moving.

    Some people with speech disorders are aware of what they would like to say but unable to articulate their thoughts. This may lead to self-esteem issues and the development of depression.

  • A faster heartbeat
  • A rapid or fast heartbeat is when your heart is beating faster than normal. A normal heart rate is 60 to 100 beats per minute. Tachycardia is considered a heart rate of greater than 100 beats per minute.
    If you are exercising, or performing any kind of activity, your heart will normally beat faster. This allows your heart to pump blood throughout your body, to provide oxygen to the tissues.
    If you are experiencing fear, anxiety or stress, your heart rate will increase.

    People who can feel their heartbeat, or flutter, may be experiencing palpitations. This may be due to stress, anxiety, medications, or it may be a sign of a serious heart condition. If you experience palpitations, you should report this to your healthcare provider.

  • small chest pain
  • Angina is chest pain or discomfort caused when your heart muscle doesn't get enough oxygen-rich blood. It may feel like pressure or squeezing in your chest. The discomfort also can occur in your shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back. Angina pain may even feel like indigestion.

    But, angina is not a disease. It is a symptom of an underlying heart problem, usually coronary heart disease (CHD).There are many types of angina, including microvascular angina, Prinzmetal's angina, stable angina, unstable angina and variant angina. View an animation of angina(link opens in new window).

    This usually happens because one or more of the coronary arteries is narrowed or blocked, also called ischemia.

    Angina can also be a symptom of coronary microvascular disease (MVD). This is heart disease that affects the heart?s smallest coronary arteries and is more likely to affect women than men. Coronary MVD also is called cardiac syndrome X and non-obstructive CHD. Learn more about angina in women.

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Experiencing breathing difficulty describes discomfort when breathing and feeling as if you can?t draw a complete breath. This can develop gradually or come on suddenly. Mild breathing problems, such as fatigue after an aerobics class, don?t fall into this category.

    Breathing difficulties can be caused by many different conditions. They can also develop as a result of stress and anxiety.

    It?s important to note that frequent episodes of shortness of breath or sudden, intense breathing difficulty may be signs of a serious health issue that needs medical attention. You should discuss any breathing concerns with your doctor.

  • sweating
  • Excessive sweating is when you sweat more than you might expect based on the surrounding temperature or your activity level or stress. Excessive sweating can disrupt daily activities and cause social anxiety or embarrassment.

    Excessive sweating, or hyperhidrosis (hi-pur-hi-DROE-sis), can affect your entire body or just certain areas, particularly your palms, soles, underarms or face. The type that typically affects the hands and feet causes at least one episode a week, during waking hours.

  • Nausea
  • Nausea and vomiting are common signs and symptoms that can be caused by numerous conditions. Nausea and vomiting most often are due to viral gastroenteritis ? often mistakenly called stomach flu ? or the morning sickness of early pregnancy.

    Many medications can cause nausea and vomiting, as can general anesthesia for surgery. Rarely, nausea and vomiting may indicate a serious or even life-threatening problem.

    Causes

    Specific phobic disorder can be caused due to:

    Much is still unknown about the actual cause of specific phobias. Causes may include:

    • Negative experiences. Many phobias develop as a result of having a negative experience or panic attack related to a specific object or situation.
    • Genetics and environment. There may be a link between your own specific phobia and the phobia or anxiety of your parents ? this could be due to genetics or learned behavior.
    • Brain function. Changes in brain functioning also may play a role in developing specific phobias.

    How it can be spread?

    Does not spread

    Treatment for the Specific phobic disorder

    The best treatment for specific phobias is a form of psychotherapy called exposure therapy. Sometimes your doctor may also recommend other therapies or medication. Understanding the cause of a phobia is actually less important than focusing on how to treat the avoidance behavior that has developed over time.

    The goal of treatment is to improve quality of life so that you're no longer limited by your phobias. As you learn how to better manage and relate to your reactions, thoughts and feelings, you'll find that your anxiety and fear are reduced and no longer in control of your life. Treatment is usually directed at one specific phobia at a time.

    Psychotherapy

    Talking with a mental health professional can help you manage your specific phobia. Exposure therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy are the most effective treatments.

    • Exposure therapy focuses on changing your response to the object or situation that you fear. Gradual, repeated exposure to the source of your specific phobia and the related thoughts, feelings and sensations may help you learn to manage your anxiety. For example, if you're afraid of elevators, your therapy may progress from simply thinking about getting into an elevator, to looking at pictures of elevators, to going near an elevator, to stepping into an elevator. Next, you may take a one-floor ride, then ride several floors, and then ride in a crowded elevator.
    • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) involves exposure combined with other techniques to learn ways to view and cope with the feared object or situation differently. You learn alternative beliefs about your fears and bodily sensations and the impact they've had on your life. CBT emphasizes learning to develop a sense of mastery and confidence with your thoughts and feelings rather than feeling overwhelmed by them.

    Medications

    Generally psychotherapy using exposure therapy is successful in treating specific phobias. However, sometimes medications can help reduce the anxiety and panic symptoms you experience from thinking about or being exposed to the object or situation you fear.

    Medications may be used during initial treatment or for short-term use in specific, infrequently encountered situations, such as flying on an airplane, public speaking or going through an MRI procedure.

    • Beta blockers. These drugs block the stimulating effects of adrenaline, such as increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, pounding heart, and shaking voice and limbs that are caused by anxiety.
    • Sedatives. Medications called benzodiazepines help you relax by reducing the amount of anxiety you feel. Sedatives are used with caution because they can be addictive and should be avoided if you have a history of alcohol or drug dependence.

    Possible complication with Specific phobic disorder

    Although specific phobias may seem silly to others, they can be devastating to the people who have them, causing problems that affect many aspects of life.

    • Social isolation. Avoiding places and things you fear can cause academic, professional and relationship problems. Children with these disorders are at risk of academic problems and loneliness, and they may have trouble with social skills if their behaviors significantly differ from their peers.
    • Mood disorders. Many people with specific phobias have depression as well as other anxiety disorders.
    • Substance abuse. The stress of living with a severe specific phobia may lead to abuse of drugs or alcohol.
    • Suicide. Some individuals with specific phobias may be at risk of suicide.

    References:

    1 https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/specific-phobias/symptoms-causes/syc-20355156 2 https://www.psycom.net/anxiety-specific-phobias/#treatment 3 https://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/specific-phobias#1 4 https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/specific-phobias 5 https://www.msdmanuals.com/home/mental-health-disorders/anxiety-and-stress-related-disorders/specific-phobic-disorders 6 https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/specific-learning-disorder/what-is-specific-learning-disorder 7 https://www.healthline.com/health/phobia-simple-specific#takeaway 8 https://childmind.org/guide/specific-phobia/

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