Phobia Definition and Types by Sonoma County Psychologist Dr. Eric Ryan

Hello, I am a Santa Rosa psychologist, therapist, and counselor, Dr. Eric Ryan—I help people learn to overcome their fears and phobias! In this sense I am a fear doctor or psychotherapist. I would like to talk to you about your phobia and help you understand what phobias are and how you can get help.

A phobia is defined as “an irrational fear of a specific object or situation.” When confronted with the feared situation you may experience an unreasonable and distressing level of suffering. Because the situation is so scary to you, the object or situation is either avoided or endured with intense distress (learn more about Anxiety & Avoidance).

A phobia is a common problem that can become very debilitating depending on the type of phobia and how often it comes up in your life. For instance, someone with a driving phobia may become panicky when they have to drive on the freeway making getting to work or visiting friends a problem. Similarly people with fears of heights and bridges may avoid any travel over a bridge, high roads, or even flying. As a result ones world shrinks.

There are several types of phobias:

  • Animal Type: includes excessive fears of spiders, insects, dogs, cats, snakes, etc.
  • Natural Environment Type: includes fears of heights, water, storms, etc.
  • Blood-Injection-Injury Type: includes fears of seeing blood, getting an injection or blood test, watching surgery, etc.
  • Situational Type: includes fears of enclosures, driving, flying, bridges, elevators, etc.

Amazing Fact: 33 million Americans will develop a phobia in their lifetime.

Click here to find out if you have an anxiety problem.


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