Experiencing intense fear related to specific animals such as cats, dogs, spiders or snakes is a form of the animal type of specific phobia. Usually the fear is associated with the outcome of being bitten and usually develops in childhood.
Natural Environment Type
Fearing aspects of the natural environment including water, storms, the woods, heights, earthquakes and hurricanes can become a phobia. This phobia also typically develops in childhood and is considered a disorder when the excessive fear interferes significantly with daily functioning.
Being excessively afraid of the sight of blood, receiving a shot or being in a hospital, dentist's office or medical clinic is an indication of this type of phobia. A phobia is developed when extreme and intense forms of escape takes place to avoid the stimulus.
Riding an elevator, flying in a plane, using public transportation and driving on bridges or through tunnels can cause excessive fear in people with the situational type of specific phobia. The fear of these things becomes a phobia when life is disrupted and functioning is impaired by extreme efforts to escape the situation.
Exposing oneself to situations in which public humiliation or embarrassment may occur can trigger social phobia in individuals who are vulnerable to this condition. Social phobia includes embarrassment (at times with face flushing or sweating) when cued by social situations such as meeting with authority figures, speaking in public or dating.
Experiencing extreme anxiety about being in places where escape might be difficult or nearly impossible is consistent with agoraphobia. This type of phobia anxiety is commonly associated with panic disorder in that people who experience panic attacks fear a situation in which escape and help are not readily available.
Phobic anxiety disorder is equated with the diagnosis of specific phobia as listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Revised (DSM-IV). Specific phobia is characterized as extreme intense fear of a specific stimulus. The fear is usually unrealistic and causes significant distress in order for an official diagnosis to be made by a mental health professional.