Specific phobia in adults: Epidemiology, clinical manifestations, course and diagnosis
- Randi E McCabe, PhD
Randi E McCabe, PhD
- Associate Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioural Neurosciences
- McMaster University
Specific phobia is an anxiety disorder characterized by clinically significant fear of a particular object or situation that typically leads to avoidance behavior. Phobic fears include animals, insects, heights, water, enclosed places, driving, flying, seeing blood, getting an injection, and choking or vomiting.
The phobic anxiety may be triggered by anticipation of the stimulus, actual exposure to the stimulus, and even hearing the stimulus name spoken aloud (eg, hearing the word spider for a spider phobic). The focus of fear may include disgust, danger of harm, and/or the experience of physical symptoms in the phobic situation .
This topic describes the epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, course, and diagnosis of specific phobia in adults. Specific phobias relating to clinical procedures (eg, blood-injection-injury phobia) and other manifestations of acute procedural anxiety, are discussed separately. Specific phobia, other anxiety disorders, and fears in children are also discussed separately. Pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy for specific phobia in adults are also discussed separately. (See "Anxiety disorders in children and adolescents: Epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, and course" and "Overview of fears and phobias in children and adolescents" and "Pharmacotherapy for specific phobia in adults" and "Psychotherapy for specific phobia in adults" and "Acute procedure anxiety in adults: Epidemiology and clinical presentation" and "Treatment of acute procedure anxiety in adults".)
SPECIFIC PHOBIA SPECIFIERS
There are five main specifiers (which can be considered types) of specific phobias in DSM-5 that are based on the nature of the phobic stimulus :
●Animal (eg, spiders, insects, dogs).
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- SPECIFIC PHOBIA SPECIFIERS
- Genetic factors
- Neurobiological factors
- Personality factors
- Cognitive factors
- Social and environmental factors
- Evolutionary pathway
- CLINICAL MANIFESTATIONS
- Differential diagnosis
- - Agoraphobia
- - Panic disorder
- - Social anxiety disorder
- - Posttraumatic stress disorder
- - Separation anxiety disorder
- - Illness anxiety disorder
- - Eating disorders
- Diagnostic criteria
- Other diagnostic considerations
- Specific phobia in children
- ASSESSMENT TOOLS
- SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS