A phobia is a marked or excessive fear reaction with an irrational foundation, often accompanied by a deep sense of dread or panic when the person is confronted with the source of their fear. The fear can be of a certain place, situation, or object. Unlike other anxiety disorders, the key feature of a phobia is that it's deeply connected with something specific. Such fears can have a limited impact if the source is avoidable, but when the object or situation is commonplace they can interfere with work, school, or even personal relationships to a drastic degree.
A variety of factors can cause phobias. For example, research has shown that who have a close relative with an anxiety disorder are at greater risk of developing a phobia. Traumatic events have also been noted as a frequent trigger for the onset of a phobia. People with health concerns often develop phobias, as well as a high incidence of people developing phobias after traumatic brain injuries. Substance abuse and depression are also associated with a higher incidence of phobia.
CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is the most commonly recommended treatment for phobias and usually involves carefully graded exposures to the source of the fear in a controlled setting, with the goal of gradually deconditioning the individual to the source. Other forms of therapy can also be helpful, with the view to exploring possible roots of the fear in key traumatic events in the person's life.