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A phobia is an extreme form of fear or anxiety triggered by a particular situation or object, even if it's unlikely to be dangerous. A fear becomes a phobia when the fear is out of proportion to the danger or it lasts more than six months and has a significant impact on day-to-day living. Phobias often produce uncomfortable feelings with panic, fear and levels of distress. A simple phobia is usually about something in particular and can often reduce in severity as we get older. Examples of which might be snakes, spiders, mice, rodents. They also may be environmental phobias which may include heights, deep water and germs or it may be a bodily phobia such as blood, vomit or having injections. Others may be a fear of the dark or situations such as flying or visiting the dentist. A complex phobia is one that develops after adolescence. Someone with a complex phobia may have social anxiety where they fear meeting people and public spaces. They may avoid situations when there may be a lot of people or places like small crowded cafes, lifts or corridors where people congregate, busy shopping centres or even staff rooms.

People who have a phobia arrange their lives around it, so they can avoid certain situations and this can greatly affect their daily lives. If a person with a serious phobia finds themselves in a situation that they fear, it could lead them to experience a panic episode. Treating phobias can, in some instances, be relatively easy, but in others, it can be more complex. Simple phobias could often be treated with gradual exposure to the object, animal or situation that causes fear and anxiety. This is known as desensitisation or self-exposure therapy. With complex phobias therapy such as counselling, psychotherapy and cognitive behaviour therapy or CBT may be required. Many people with a phobia don't need treatment and avoiding the object in their fear is enough to control the problem. Many phobias are treatable but no single treatment is guaranteed to work for all. In some cases, a combination of different treatments may be recommended. The main types of treatments are self-help techniques, talking therapies, medications and cognitive behavioural therapy.