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Treatment and Management for Specific Phobias

Specific phobia treatment
Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology


‘Phobos’, a Greek word that signifies “fear” or “horror,” is where the name ‘phobia’ originates. Phobia is an illogical fear of something unlikely to harm you. There are two complex phobias (social phobia and agoraphobia) and a number of specific ones. A specific phobia is an irrational and intense fear of a particular object or situation. For instance, hydrophobia (fear of water), acrophobia (fear of heights), and entomophobia (fear of insects). Regular concerns can create some distress, but phobias interfere with daily activities.

Although overcoming fear is challenging, it is not impossible. This article will direct you to specific phobias treatment and management choices.

Are there any objects or situations that make you extremely anxious? There is a possibility that you have a phobia. Don’t hesitate to seek help!

Types of Phobias

Based on the thing or circumstance that causes extreme anxiety; there are many types of specific phobias. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) classifies specific phobias into the following categories:

Environmental or natural phobias

E.g., fear of water, thunder, or lightning.

Animal phobias

E.g., fear of insects, dogs, and snakes.

Injury phobias

E.g. fear of injections, medical procedures, or blood.

Situational phobias

E.g., fear of closed spaces, airplanes, or elevators.

Other types

Phobias that do not fall into another category.

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Treatment for Phobias

The purpose of treatment for phobic disorders [1*] is to enhance the quality of life so that your fears no longer restrict you. You’ll notice that your anxiety and dread are lessened and no longer controlling your life. You learn new ways to regulate your reactions, thoughts, and feelings.


  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)

Cognitive-behavioral therapy [2*] is commonly used to treat anxiety disorders, including specific phobias. CBT aims to help you spot negative thoughts and behaviors and replace them with more constructive ones when facing situations that cause anxiety.

In this sort of therapy, you’ll discover techniques that help uncover distorted beliefs, patterns of unhelpful thinking, and your reactions to the particular thing, situation, or scenario that causes your phobia. After that, you will collaborate with the therapist in sessions to alter these feelings and responses.

  • Exposure therapy for phobias

This is one of the most popular therapies used to treat phobias. It allows individuals to face anxiety-provoking situations directly. According to research, exposure treatment helps 80% to 90% [3*] of patients with certain phobias.

The strategy behind exposure therapy is to expose a person to a phobic situation gradually, securely, and methodically. You might also learn how to breathe to calm yourself down or use other relaxation techniques to reduce your anxiety. As the first step, treating the avoidance behavior that has grown over time is more crucial than trying to understand the origin of a phobia.

Due to technological advances, you can attend CBT or exposure therapy online. According to several studies, virtual psychotherapy is as effective as in-person sessions.

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Treatment for phobias


While medicine isn’t typically used to cure phobias on its own, it may occasionally be recommended to help people manage the physical and mental symptoms of anxiety [4*] . Typically, the drugs reviewed below are combined with psychotherapy for the best results.

Categories of medications used to treatment for specific phobias include the following:

  • Antidepressants. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), selective serotonin and norepinephrine inhibitors (SNRIs), and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are three kinds of antidepressants that are occasionally used to treat phobias. Antidepressants offer anti-anxiety properties that may be beneficial in treating phobias and other anxiety-related disorders, even though they are most frequently used to treat mood disorders like depression.
  • Benzodiazepines. For the short-term acute treatment of anxiety related to phobias, benzodiazepines like Valium (diazepam), Xanax (alprazolam), Klonopin (clonazepam), and Ativan (lorazepam) are typically utilized.
  • Beta-blockers. These medicines prevent the stimulating effects of adrenaline, which include the shaking of the voice and limbs, high blood pressure, racing heart, and accelerated heart rate brought on by anxiety.

Self-Care Tips for Phobias Management

You can attempt several methods to deal with your phobia. They could perhaps lessen the effect it has on your life. These concepts may be helpful to some people, but they may not be for everyone. Try only what you are at ease doing, and seek professional help if these tips don’t work for you.

  • Lifestyle Changes. Making small changes may help lessen phobia symptoms and make you less anxious:
    • routine exercise,
    • eating regular, wholesome meals,
    • limiting or eliminating caffeine and other stimulants,
    • getting adequate sleep.
  • Relaxation strategies are a set of physical activities that could aid in relaxing and ensuring breathing control.
  • Visualization blends breathing exercises with relaxation techniques to help you deal with situations that could otherwise make you anxious. You can visualize soothing scenery or a situation to relax and get distracted.
  • Self-help groups are a good way to connect with people going through similar things and share coping mechanisms.

Bringing It All Together

Even though adults with specific phobias may be aware that their fears are irrational, they might not know it is a treatable condition. However, phobias can be managed successfully using various techniques.

It’s critical to get professional assistance if you believe your phobia is unmanageable and interferes with your operating ability. The mental health professionals of the MEDvidi online clinic are ready to help!


4 sources
  1. Recent developments in the intervention of specific phobia among adults: a rapid review. (2020)
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  3. Recent developments in the intervention of specific phobia among adults: a rapid review. (2020)
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  4. Pharmacotherapy of Anxiety Disorders: Current and Emerging Treatment Options. (2020)
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Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology


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Evidence Based

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by experts.

Our team of experts strive to be objective, unbiased, honest and to present both sides of the argument.

This article contains scientific references. The numbers
in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.