Phobias are a type of anxiety disorder usually defined as a persistent irrational fear of an object or situation. Specific phobias include agoraphobia, claustrophobia and social phobia. Amongst the most common phobias are fear of snakes, spiders, heights and flying.
Phobias often develop from a single traumatic event associated with the feared object or situation that triggered the ‘fight or flight’ response. From then on the fear response is triggered whenever the object or situation or something similar is encountered. In this way a fear of snakes, for example, may generalise to anything snake-like, such as a tie.
Avoiding the object/situation ensures that the phobia persists, frequently limiting where the sufferer can go or what they can do. Work, relationships and quality of life in general may be severely affected.