A phobia is characterized by: 1) intense fear in response to a specific situation or stimulus, 2) which is unrealistic, and 3) that interferes with the phobic person's ability to function in normal daily activities. The three specific phobias are social anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, and specific phobia (animal phobia, blood phobia, and natural environment phobia).  As a result of the phobic situation, the individual will have an intense fear and there will be a feeling of paralysis and an inability to function. This may be manifested in an inability to function at school or work, and the fear of a phobic situation occurring may bring on panic attacks, rapid heartbeat, a choking feeling, or a "sinking" feeling. Social anxiety disorder and agoraphobia are usually chronic conditions that tend to increase in severity and interfere with a person's ability to function.
The term persistent fear can be used to describe a phobia or the fear of having a phobia. Fear is understood to be the result of a reaction to a stimulus, which the brain then perceives as dangerous. Persistent fear is considered a pathological fear.
Phobias are not uncommon. There are approximately ten million individuals in the United States who have a phobia. As a result of fears, phobias can cause anxiety, depression, and other problems.
A phobia is an intense, irrational fear, usually of an animal or a natural environment. A phobia can be diagnosed using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV (DSM-IV) criteria. These criteria are: 1) the presence of one or more specific phobias, 2) the presence of a persistent or fixed fear, 3) fear is out of proportion to the actual danger of the situation, and 4) fear or avoidance develops either gradually or rapidly over a period of at least six months. 3d9ccd7d82