A phobia is defined as an irrational and intense fear of a specific object or situation. Phobias are classified as anxiety disorders by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (4th Ed; DSM-IV), and are the leading type of mental illness in adult women. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, between 8.7% and 18.1% of Americans suffer from a phobia.
Phobias vary in severity from person to person. Some people are able to manage their symptoms and face the feared object, albeit with a great sense of terror. Others are motivated by the phobia to avoid the feared situation, sometimes at great personal cost.
Terror: A persistent and overwhelming fear of the object or situation.
Physical Symptoms: Dizziness, shaking, palpitations.
Obsessive Thoughts: Difficulty thinking about anything other than the fear.
Desire to Flee: An intense instinct to leave the situation.
Anticipatory Anxiety: Persistent worrying about upcoming events that involve the phobic object or situation.