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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Toller

Treatment for Phobias

Updated: Jul 25, 2023

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 12.5% of adults will deal with a phobia in their lifetime, making them the most common mental illnesses.

A phobia is an irrational fear of a specific place, situation, or object. The sufferer may experience a deep sense of dread or panic when you encounter the source of that fear.

People with phobias often realize their fear is irrational but feel unable to do anything about it. Phobias can become debilitating and interfere with work, school, and personal relationships.

Typically, symptoms of phobias can include shortness of breath, nausea, trembling, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, feelings of unreality, excessive sweating, and being preoccupied with the fear object.

Common phobias are a fear of:

• Situations, such as flying, enclosed spaces, or elevators

• Nature, such as thunderstorms or heights

• Animals or insects, such as dogs or spiders

• Needles, blood, or medical procedures

• Others, such as fainting, loud noises, or clowns


Phobias are generally identified in three different categories:

Social phobias

Social phobia is a fear of everyday interactions such as talking in groups, public speaking, meeting new people, speaking to authority figures, or eating and drinking in front of others. Social Phobias cause anxiety, self-consciousness, and embarrassment because you fear being scrutinized or judged negatively by others.


Agoraphobia is a fear of being trapped. It is often referred to as the "fear of open spaces." People with agoraphobia fear being trapped outside the home, or in large crowds where they can't escape.

Specific phobias

These are phobias about a specific object or situation, such as snakes or flying.

Causes of Phobias

Phobias often develop early in life. Although these fears are irrational, even thinking about facing the feared object or situation brings on severe anxiety symptoms.

Much is still unknown about the causes of phobias, but according to the Mayo clinic, commons causes include:

Negative experiences: Many phobias develop because of having a negative experience or panic attack related to a specific object or situation.

Genetics: People with a genetic predisposition to anxiety may be at high risk of developing a phobia.

Environment: Your phobia may develop from factors in your childhood environment.

Brain functioning: Changes in brain functioning also may play a role in developing specific phobias.

* Substance abuse and long-term stress have also been linked to causes of phobias.

Treatment for Phobias

Treatment should be sought if a phobia is becoming severely disabling and interfering with work, school, and personal relationships.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT is the most common therapy used to treat phobias. You work with a psychologist to desensitize yourself to the object or situation you fear. This treatment can decondition and reduce anxiety.

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)

DBT builds from CBT principles; you learn additional skills to the ones promoted in CBT. DBT focuses on four main skill sets; mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.


Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can help calm reactions to the fears. Using a combination of medication and professional therapy is often most


Overcoming phobias can be difficult, but there’s hope. Call Nōmina to see how we can help with phobias. We can help you learn to manage your fears, so you can reframe your fears and lead a happy, productive, and fulfilling life.

Treating Phobias


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