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Specific Phobia
Social Phobia
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Phobias Links

There are two different types of phobias; specific phobia; which is fear of a particular object, and social phobia; which is fear of embarrassment in public places. People can often become so overwhelmed by their phobias that they will avoid the feared object or situation. This intense fear can sometimes disrupt normal life, interfering with situations in varying degrees of severity. The average age for onset of social phobias is between 15 and 20 years of age, although it can occur in childhood as well, whereas specific phobias can occur in all ages. Research has shown that traumatic events can trigger specific phobia, whereas social phobia is usually due to a heredity link. Treatment usually, involves medication, especially in the case of social phobia, or "exposure" therapy, in the case of specific phobia.


Specific phobia is quite common and usually becomes apparent in adolescence or early adulthood. The sufferer experiences irrational fears of certain things or situations, ie: heights, flying, dogs. When faced with or thinking about these situations or objects the phobic may bring on a panic attack or severe anxiety. Some sufferers may find that avoiding the object or situation is not disruptive to their life, and therefore may never need treatment. However, when people with specific phobia start to make important and major decisions to change their life to avoid the phobia cause, it is important that they seek treatment. Cognitive behavioural therapy is usually used by exposing the phobic to the situation or object and teaching skills to handle and cope with the situation.


Social phobia occurs when the person has an intense fear of social situations. The fear is of being humiliated or embarrassing yourself in front of other people. There is a heredity link with social phobia and it is often associated with depression or alcoholism. Social phobia can begin around adolescence or younger. A general social phobia usually means that the sufferer thinks that they are incompetent in public, and blushing or the feeling that all eyes are on you may be extremely embarrassing. A specific social phobia can mean that the sufferer can become anxious about things like; giving a public speech, or talking to an authority figure. Shyness and social phobia are not the same. Shyness, although it can be similar, does not make the person feel anxious in anticipation of an event or people who are shy do not tend to avoid a possibly uncomfortable situation. On the other hand, people with social phobia can often be at ease with a group of people, however the phobia can prevent them from being comfortable around another group. Cognitive behavioural therapy and medications are effective at treating social phobia by making the situations easier to face.



Social phobia: long-term treatment outcome and prediction of response--a moclobemide study

Social phobia: issues in assessment and management

Fear: the impact and treatment of social phobia

There is also a Health Translations Online Directory that enables you, health practitioners, and those working with culturally and linguistically diverse communities to easily find reliable translated health information.

The Directory provides web links to online multilingual resources across the health sector including government departments, peak health bodies, hospitals, community health centres and welfare agencies.


The factual information on this page was compiled from:
NIMH National Institute of Mental Health (http://www.nimh.gov)

by people who have had experience with Phobias.

Please send us your comments and experiences with Phobias to share with others.

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