What is a Phobic Reaction?

A Phobic Reaction is Your Symptoms

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A loose definition of a phobic reaction is any reaction to a phobia. These reactions are symptoms, for example feeling intense anxiety or sweaty palms, and may range from mild to severe.

A therapist will use the details you give her about your phobic reactions to help her make the correct diagnosis.

There are three types of phobia: social phobia, agoraphobia, and specific phobia. Symptoms, or phobic reactions, may be psychological, such as an intense feeling of unease or foreboding; physical, such as crying or gastrointestinal distress; or behavioral, which includes a wide variety of avoidance tactics.

When Should I See A Doctor?

Your phobic reaction merits a trip to the doctor when your symptoms interfere with your ability to make money, maintain healthy personal relationships, and perform essential daily tasks, such as bathing or grocery shopping.

Treatment for Phobic Reaction

All three types of phobia are highly treatable with help from a mental health professional and tend to get worse over time if you don't seek treatment.

Typical treatment for phobia includes cognitive behavior therapy techniques including gradual desensitization, comparing your unreasonable fears to the actual risk, and changing your maladaptive thoughts into constructive ones.

Phobic Reaction in Social Phobia

Social phobia, or social anxiety disorder, is a fear of judgment by others. It's an intense fear of embarrassing or humiliating yourself in small or large groups.

Phobic reactions to what triggers your social phobia may include:

  •     being overly concerned you will offend someone
  •     an intense fear of having a conversation with strangers
  •     avoiding any situation where you will be the center of attention, such as a birthday party
  •     anticipating the worst case scenario during a social situation

Phobic Reaction in Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia is commonly thought of as a fear of wide, open space.

Actually, this anxiety disorder is a fear of being unable to escape to safety or find help when you start having a phobic reaction. The physical symptoms match those of specific phobia (below).

Maladaptive thoughts during a phobic reaction to agoraphobia can include:

  •     I'm losing my sanity.
  •     I might lose control and have an obvious phobic reaction in public and others may stare.
  •     I won't be able to get out of here if I start to have a phobic reaction.

Certain behaviors are characteristic of agoraphobia, including:

  •     not being able to leave your residence for long periods of time
  •     an aversion to being far from home
  •     needing someone you trust when going out

Phobic Reaction in Specific Phobia

Specific phobia presents as an intense, exaggerated, and persistent fear of a situation or object. The number of specific phobias is only limited by the number of nouns and includes, a fear of bathing (ablutophobia), a fear of the number 8 (octophobia) and the fear of death (thanatophobia).

A phobic reaction to specific phobia happens when you anticipate or encounter your trigger and includes:

Example: Every time Jennifer saw a clown, she had a phobic reaction consisting of sweating, crying and shaking.


Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Symptoms of Specific Phobia

Mayo Clinic: Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia) (2014)

National Health Service: Symptoms of Agoraphobia (2016)

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