A phobia is an overwhelming and debilitating fear of an object, place, situation, feeling or animal.


  • Panic attacks
  • Physical symptoms
  • sweating
  • trembling
  • hot flushes or chills
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • a choking sensation
  • rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
  • pain or tightness in the chest
  • a sensation of butterflies in the stomach
  • nausea
  • headaches and dizziness
  • feeling faint
  • numbness or pins and needles
  • dry mouth
  • a need to go to the toilet
  • ringing in your ears
  • confusion or disorientation
  • Psychological symptoms
  • fear of losing control
  • fear of fainting
  • feelings of dread
  • fear of dying
  • Complex phobias ( agoraphobia and social phobia )


  • Genetic and environmental factors
  • Distressing events
  • Exposure to confined spaces, extreme heights, and animal or insect bites can all be sources of phobias.
  • Substance abuse and depression are also connected to phobias.
  • People with ongoing medical conditions or health concerns often have phobias

Risk factors

  • Family history
  • Negative experiences
  • Temperament
  • New social or work demands
  • Having a health condition that draws attention

Diagnostic Tests

  • Perform a physical exam
  • Ask you to describe your signs and symptoms
  • Review a list of situations to see if they make you anxious
  • psychological questionnaires
  • Persistent fear  or intense anxiety about social situations


  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
  • Medication
  • Antidepressants
  • Tranquillisers
  • Beta-blockers

Lifestyle management

  • Reach out to people with whom you feel comfortable
  • Join a local or Internet-based support group
  • Get physical exercise or be physically active on a regular basis
  • Get enough sleep
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Limit or avoid caffeine
  • Prepare for social situations