INTRODUCTION TO PHOBIAS

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DEFINITION

- a phobia is an intense, persistant and irrational fear of a particlurar bject, activity or situation

- the sufferer is often aware of this (neurotic condition)

- suggers will begin to organise their lives arounf avoiding the thing that is causing the anxiety

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SPECIFIC PHOBIAS

- Involve a fear of a ingle stimulus e.g. spiders, flying.

- Often develop in childhood or adolesence and dor meny people they will lessen as they get older.

- Around 13% of the population are affected

- Common types:

zoophobia - term encompasses fears of specifictypes of animals e.g. spiders (arachnophobia), birds (ophidiophobia)

acrophobia - abnormally excessive and persistent fear of hight, extreme anxiety even if they realise the height is no threat to them

aerophobia - abnormal/persistent fear of flying, generally developes after a person witnesses a plane crash/loses a family member in a plane crash. Experinece severe anxiety even through they are aware they are at no threat

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COMPLEX PHOBIAS

Tend to be more distruptive and disabling than specific phobias and often develop over adolecence. 2 of the most common complex phobias are social phobia and agoraphobia

Social Phobia - anxious around people & worry people are going to be critical of you/you will do something embarassing. Can be connected to one specific activity, such as public speaking, but it can be much more severe . It can become incredibly debilitating and prevent people from engaging in every day activities such as shopping, eating out or meeting friends

Up to 8% in US population, more commen in women, often begins in late childhood/adolesence

-Agoraphobia - More complex than a fear of open spaces, you will feel anxious about being in places or situations from which escape might be difficult, embarrasing or in which help may not be avaliable in the event of having a panic attack. Avoiding situations e.g. being alone, inside or outside the home, being in a crowd of people, travelling in a car, bus or plane, on a bridge or in a lift

Approx. 3% in adults (x2 female than men), usually starts in late 20s or 30s

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DIAGNOSTIC CRITERIA FOR A SIMPLE PHOBIA

1) marked and persistent fear that is excessive or inreasonable, cued by the presence or anticipation of a specific object or situation e.g. flying, heights, injection, dogs

2) esposure to the phobic item almost invariably provoked an immediate anxiety response such as a panic attack. With kids this could be expressed as crying, tantrums, freezing or clinging

3) the perosn recognises that the fear is excessive or unreasonable. this feature may be ansent in children

4) The phobix situation is avoided or edured with intense anxiety or distress

5) this avoidance, anxious anticipation or distress in the feared situation interferes significantly with the persons normal routine, occupation, social activities or relationships and there is marked distress about the phobia

6) in individuals under the age of 18 the duration must be at least 6 months

7) panic attacks or phobic avoidance associated with a specific object or situtaion are not better accened for by another mental disorder, such as OCD, PTSD, social phobia etc. 

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