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A specific phobia is a generic term for any kind of anxiety disorder that amounts to an unreasonable or irrational fear related to exposure to specific objects or situations. As a result, the affected persons tend to actively avoid direct contact with the objects or situations and, in severe cases, any mention or depiction of them.
The fear or anxiety may be triggered both by the presence and the anticipation of the specific object or situation. A person who encounters that of which they are phobic will often show signs of fear or express discomfort. In some cases it can result in a panic attack. In most cases of adults, this kind of phobia is consciously recognized by the person; still, anxiety and avoidance are difficult to control and may significantly impair person's functioning and even physical health.
Categories of specific phobias
According to the fourth revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders phobias can be classified under the following general categories:
- Animal type
- Natural environment type
- Like the fear of heights (acrophobia), the fear of lightning and thunderstorms (astraphobia), and the fear of aging (gerascophobia).
- Situational type
- Like the fear of small confined spaces (claustrophobia) and being "afraid of the dark," (nyctophobia).
- Blood/injection/injury type
- Like the fear of medical procedures including needles and injections (Trypanophobia)
- ^ Narrow et al. (2002). [Expression error: Missing operand for > "Revised prevalence estimates of mental disorders in the United States"]. Archives of General Psychiatry 59: 115–123. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.59.2.115. PMID 11825131.
- ^ Cameron, Alasdair (2004). Crash Course Psychiatry. Elsevier Ltd. ISBN 0-7234-3340-8.