The specific phobia, also called singular phobia, is a form of an anxiety disorder. If you suffer from a specific phobia, you experience clear anxiety, which does not seem to disappear. You also know that this anxiety is exaggerated and unnecessary. You ought not experience anxiety. The anxiety is caused by a certain situation or even a certain object.

If you suffer from a specific phobia, this often already shows at a young age. During the later pubescent years, a specific phobia can start to show. Just because this specific phobia starts early, the development of this specific phobia takes more time.

What are the symptoms of specific phobia?

When experiencing a specific phobia, one experiences anxiety about a certain situation or even an object. The following symptoms were described by the DSM-IV-TR, regarding the specific situation which you personally experience:

  1. When you come into contact with the situation or think of the situation, clear anxiety is developed, of which you know that it is exaggerated.
  2. When you come into contact with the situation, this almost always immediately causes anxiety, which eventually can result in a panic attack.
  3. You know that the anxiety, which you experience, is exaggerated and irrational.
  4. The situations which cause anxiety lead to either avoidance behavior or to major anxiety.
  5. Significant suffering must be present, caused by the anxiety. The anxiety must also be a limitation to your daily functioning.
  6. If you are younger than 18 years of age, the symptoms must have been present for at least 6 months.

Subtypes of specific phobia?

A specific phobia is, as mentioned, a type of anxiety disorder in which we experience anxiety regarding a specific object or situation. The objects or situations which trigger the specific phobia can be divided up into 5 subtypes.

  • Specific phobia regarding animals, or animal phobia. Here, you become anxious when you come into contact with insects or animals.
  • Specific phobia regarding nature. Situations from nature such as storms, water, ... can cause anxiety.
  • Specific phobia regarding blood, injections, and injuries. Here, you become anxious when you see an injury or when you see blood. You can also become anxious when you have to get an injection or when you need to undergo other medical operations.
  • Specific phobia for specific situations, also called situational phobia. This includes anxiety in specific situations such as in airplanes, buses, elevators,...
  • Specific phobia regarding stimuli which can lead to vomiting, feeling light-headed, nausea, or an illness. This includes the phobia of fainting in an area with walls or other objects close by.

What are possible causes of a specific phobia?

Regarding the causes of specific phobia, a lot remains to be discovered. What we do know is that a combination of biological and situational factors needs to be at play in order for a specific phobia to develop.

Regarding biological factors, we mainly consider gender and genetics. Women namely have a much larger chance of experiencing a specific phobia. Also, part of a specific phobia can be explained by genetics, even though this part is very small. So, the largest influence in the development of a specific phobia will be the situational factors involved.

For example, people with lower education and a lower-income have a larger chance of experiencing a specific phobia. If you eventually are jobless, chances are even higher. Except for economic factors, experiencing certain major dangers can also cause specific phobia. If you respond to such a situation with fear or if a trauma is caused, this can partake in the development of a specific phobia. Experiences and major happenings are thus very important here.

What are the consequences of a specific phobia?

A specific phobia always causes significant suffering for the person in question. After a while, this suffering can also help develop other mental disorders, for example a depression. Social relations and hobbies could also start to suffer from the phobia. A specific phobia can have a large influence on different parts of life and thereby 'control' your life. By avoiding the situation, which causes anxiety, you can feel trapped and feel like your anxiety rules over your life.

Treating a specific phobia?

A specific phobia can be treated with the help of specific therapeutic techniques. These techniques can help you look at what it is that triggers the anxiety and how you can reduce your anxiety at the hand of thought-re-structuring. "" is an online self-help program, which guides you at the hand of these therapeutic techniques to reduce your anxiety. So work on your anxiety every day to once again take your life into your own hands!

Are you looking for a test?

Would you like to know which anxiety symptoms are present in you and what type of suffering they cause in your life? Then take our free anxiety test here!