Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD
Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- Phobia facts
- What is a phobia? What are the different kinds of phobias?
- What are the complications of phobias?
- What are the causes and risk factors for phobias?
- What are the signs and symptoms of phobias?
- How are phobias assessed?
- How are phobias treated?
- What is the prognosis for phobias?
- How are phobias prevented?
- How can people cope with phobias?
- Where can people get information and help for phobias?
- Find a local Psychiatrist in your town
What are the complications of phobias?
If left untreated, a phobia may worsen to the point in which the person's life is seriously affected, both by the phobia itself and/or by attempts to avoid or conceal it. For example, a fear of flying can result in the individual being unable to travel. In fact, some people have had problems with friends and family, failed in school, and/or lost jobs while struggling to cope with a severe phobia. There may be periods of spontaneous improvement, but a phobia does not usually go away unless the person receives treatments designed specifically to help phobia sufferers. Alcoholics can be up to 10 times more likely to suffer from a phobia than those who are not alcoholics, and phobic individuals can be twice as likely to suffer from alcoholism or other addictions than those who have never been phobic. It has even been found that phobic anxiety can be life-threatening for some people, increasing the risk of suffering from heart disease in both men and women.
What are the causes and risk factors for phobias?
While there is no one specific known cause for phobias, it is thought that phobias run in families, are influenced by culture and how one is parented, and can be triggered by a number of different life events. Immediate family members of people with phobias are about three times more likely to also suffer from a phobia than those who do not have such a family history. People whose parents either were overly protective or were distant in raising them may be at more risk of developing phobias. Phobia sufferers have been found to be more likely to manage stress by avoiding the stressful situation and by having difficulty minimizing the intensity of the fearful situation. Another possible contributor to the development of phobias is classical conditioning. As it relates to phobias, in classical conditioning, a person responds to something frightening by generalizing the fear of that specific object or situation to more generalized objects or situations. For example, an individual may respond to a real threat by one dog to a fear of all dogs.
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