Explains phobias, including possible causes and how you can access treatment and support. Includes tips for helping yourself, and guidance for friends and family.
A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder. It is an extreme form of fear or anxiety triggered by a particular situation (such as going outside) or object (such as spiders), even when there is no danger.
For example, you may know that it is safe to be out on a balcony in a high-rise block, but feel terrified to go out on it or even enjoy the view from behind the windows inside the building. Likewise, you may know that a spider isn’t poisonous or that it won’t bite you, but this still doesn’t reduce your anxiety.
Someone with a phobia may even feel this extreme anxiety just by thinking or talking about the particular situation or object.
Many of us have fears about particular objects or situations, and this is perfectly normal. A fear becomes a phobia if:
"To live in a world full of fear is not living, it is survival."
"A phobia is only as big as we make it and only as small as we make it. It is what we choose to make it and it can be beaten."
This information was published in March 2017. We will revise it in 2020.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.