Outline and evaluate issues surrounding the classification and diagnosis of one anxiety disorder (8 + 16 marks)

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Outline clinical characteristics of phobic disorders (8 marks)
A phobia is a persistent fear that is excessive or unreasonable which must meet a set of criteria given in the
Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). A clinical diagnosis can only be made if there is no
other possible physiological cause e.g. substance abuse and if the symptoms cannot be better accounted
for by another disorder. The individual also recognises their behaviour is unreasonable and the severity of
the fear interferes with an individual's life majorly. There are different types of phobic disorders such as,
agoraphobia, the fear of being trapped in a public place or situation where escape may be difficult. This can
occur with an immediate response such as a panic attack. A clinical diagnosis is made if an individual
experiences repeated panic attacks over a period of a month and is persistently concerned about having
worries about the possible consequences of the attacks. Secondly, there are specific phobias, which are the
most common fear, relating to specific objects or situations. This includes fears of animals (arachnophobia),
the natural environment (heights/water), blood/injection, situational (planes) or other fears (fear of
choking). The fear is triggered by a specific stimulus that is out of proportion to what is reasonable to which
children have a 6 month requirement before diagnosis can be made. Lastly, social phobias are fears related
to judgement of others e.g. speaking in public, except so severe it impairs everyday life.
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