Specific Phobia is a common mental disorder that affects between 2-4% people each year. Specifc phobia refers to intense fear related to exposure of specific objects and situation, to an extent that prevents it from being faced. Fear is a natural response towards danger. Yet, the feeling of fear experienced in individuals with specific phobia is out of proportion of the actual threat. This affects individual's daily life, such as by interveneing their work when they escape from the threat.
Common types of Specific Phobia in Hong Kong include:
Animal phobia: insect, dog
Natural environment phobia: water, height and storm
Situational phobia: closed-in space, dentist, airplanes
Body-based phobia: injection, blood, vomitus
The psychology and medical field believe that specific phobia is caused by an interaction between biological, psychological and environmental factors. Some people may have certain personal experience (e.g. being bitten by a dog), or have witnessed or listened to experience shared by others (e.g. aircrash). Yet, the majority of them failed to remember the origin of the intense fear.
Individuals with specific phobia will have physical reactions such as heart palpitation, sweating, trembling and shortness of breath. On a cognitive level, fear-related thoughts encourage them to engage in escape behaviors. This in turn leads to the development of a vicious cycle and keeps the phobia going.
Heart palpitation, sweating, trembling, dry mouth, shortness of breath, chest discomfort or pain, nausea or abdominal discomfort, dizziness, fever or chills, numbness, derealization, depersonalization, have the feeling that your behaviors and feelings do not belong to yourself
Worried that they have to face things that they are afraid of, fear the consequences of facing the things they are afraid of, feel that they will die
Try to escape from any possible encounter that involve the objects/situations in fear, distract themselves, take other precations (e.g. find someone to accompany them when going out, bring safety items)