Specific Phobia


  • Specific phobia (SP) is a condition where you have strong fear of a specific object or situation (certain place and time). You become anxious when faced with the feared object or situation. You may be afraid that you will be hurt by the object, or in the situation. With specific phobia, you know that you are more afraid than you should be, but you cannot talk yourself out of the fear. You may try to avoid certain things so that you do not have to face your fear. Because of your fear, you may not be able to do your daily activities. Common fears include spiders, snakes, heights, blood, and needles.

  • Your caregiver will ask you about your health history, and if anyone in your family has anxiety problems. Tell him about your fears and worries, and what makes them worse. Tests may be done to check if your symptoms are caused by a medical problem. Exposure therapy (facing your feared object), other therapies, and medicines may be used to treat your SP. When you have SP, you may also have other anxiety disorders. SP usually starts when you are a child, and often lasts many years. Getting treatment for specific phobia can help you control your anxiety, and make your fear go away. Your specific phobia can come back even after treatment. By learning and practicing ways to cope with your fear, you may be able to overcome it.


Take your medicine as directed.

Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.


  • Keep a diary of how you feel when you face your fear. Write down any signs and symptoms, including what you did to cope with facing your fear. The diary will help you and your caregiver see if you have less fear over time. Take your diary with you every time you visit your caregiver.

  • Learn more about specific phobia. Ask caregivers where to find more information about specific phobia. The more you know about your condition, the better you can help yourself.

  • Practice being around things that you fear while at home. Facing your fears from time to time even after treatment will help decrease the chances of your specific phobia coming back. Practice the ways that you learned for how to cope with your fear. Ask caregivers for the names of books that might help you manage worry and anxiety.


  • You cannot make it to your next meeting with your caregiver.

  • You have new symptoms since you last saw your caregiver.

  • Your worry keeps you from doing tasks, such as work, or caring for yourself or your family.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition, treatment, or care.


  • You feel light-headed or dizzy, or you faint.

  • You have sudden trouble breathing, chest pain, or a fast heartbeat.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Specific Phobia (Aftercare Instructions)