Social phobias typically begin in adolescence or young adulthood., literally “fear of open spaces,” is more accurately the fear of having a panic attack in a public place, such as a shopping mall or a theater, from which one might have difficulty escaping to safety.
The major diagnostic characteristics of a phobia are that an individual consistently reacts to some object or situation with intense fear and seeks to escape or avoid that stimulus; this fear is sufficiently strong that it interferes with the person’s normal functioning.
Three types of phobias are differentiated by the nature of the circumstances that precipitate the strong fear reaction: specific phobia, social phobia, and agoraphobia.
For example, a person with panic disorder experiences intense panic attacks that are similar to what phobics experience, except that these attacks seem to come out of nowhere and are not clearly attached to specific circumstances.
The majority of agoraphobics will be diagnosed as having panic disorder with agoraphobia.
Due to this fear, agoraphobics avoid public situations and, in many cases, become totally housebound.
Phobias share many characteristics with other anxiety disorders.
A specific phobia is an unreasonable fear of certain objects or situations so excessive that it disrupts a person’s life or causes great distress.
Typical phobias include driving, flying, blood, needles, and spiders.
include fears of clearly identifiable objects or situations, such as looking down from a tall building or seeing a snake.
There are four basic subtypes of specific phobia: natural environment (water, storms); animals (snakes, spiders); situations (enclosed places, bridges); and blood, injections, and injuries (dentistry).