Most people will feel some degree of anxiety and discomfort when they anticipate a painful experience, such as getting an injection, or when faced with potential danger, such as being confronted by an angry, barking dog. People with a specific phobia have developed an extreme fear of a particular object, activity or situation which is out of proportion with the actual level of threat posed. People with specific phobia will actively avoid the feared object or situation, and experience a high level of anxiety if it is encountered.

Key Points

Common phobias include:

Specific phobias usually develop during childhood and are twice as likely to be diagnosed in women compared to men. More than 75 per cent of people with a specific phobia experience multiple phobias over their lifetime.


Specific phobia is characterised by:

A diagnosis of a specific phobia is made when these symptoms are present for six months or longer and cause the person significant distress, or interfere with important aspects of the person’s life, such their work or relationships.

Seeking Help

If a specific phobia is affecting your day-to-day life, a psychologist may be able to help. Psychologists are highly trained and qualified professionals, skilled in diagnosing and treating a range of mental health concerns, including phobias. A psychologist can help you to identify and manage the factors that contribute to your phobia.

If you are experiencing similar problems, please contact us.