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Specific phobia
ICD-10 F402
ICD-9 300.29
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A specific phobia is a generic term for any kind of anxiety disorder that amounts to an unreasonable or irrational fear related to exposure to specific objects or situations. As a result, the affected persons tend to actively avoid direct contact with the objects or situations and, in severe cases, any mention or depiction of them.

The fear or anxiety may be triggered both by the presence and the anticipation of the specific object or situation. A person who encounters that of which they are phobic will often show signs of fear or express discomfort. In some cases it can result in a panic attack. In most cases of adults, this kind of phobia is consciously recognized by the person; still, anxiety and avoidance are difficult to control and may significantly impair person's functioning and even physical health.


Specific phobias have a one-year prevalence of 4.4% (in the USA)[1]. The usual age of onset is childhood to adolescence. Women are two times more likely to suffer from specific phobias than men[2].

Categories of specific phobias

According to the fourth revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders phobias can be classified under the following general categories:

  • Animal type
For example the fear of spiders (arachnophobia) and the fear of snakes (ophidiophobia).
  • Natural environment type
Like the fear of heights (acrophobia), the fear of lightning and thunderstorms (astraphobia), and the fear of aging (gerascophobia).
  • Situational type
Like the fear of small confined spaces (claustrophobia) and being "afraid of the dark," (nyctophobia).
  • Blood/injection/injury type
Like the fear of medical procedures including needles and injections (Trypanophobia)
  • Other
Like the fear of the number 13 (triskaidekaphobia), and the fear of clowns (coulrophobia).

See also


  1. Narrow et al. (2002). Revised prevalence estimates of mental disorders in the United States. Archives of General Psychiatry 59: 115–123.
  2. Cameron, Alasdair (2004). Crash Course Psychiatry, Elsevier Ltd.

External links

Template:Mental and behavioral disorders

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