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How are phobias diagnosed?

Most phobias aren’t diagnosed, as many people learn to live with them and avoid the object or situation that causes the issue. But this can actually make things worse, and cause more anxiety, so it’s best to tackle it head on, particularly if your fear is severe.

There are many different types of phobias. Some of the more common ones include spiders, dogs, heights or flying. These often develop after a traumatic experience in childhood or when you’re a teenager, and these are known as ‘simple phobias’.

However, there are many less common ones that you could be suffering from, including a ‘complex phobia’ like social phobia (social anxiety order) and agoraphobia. These tend to develop when you’re an adult and can be very debilitating and make day-to-day life a challenge.

If you think you have a simple or complex phobia that is affecting your quality of life, you should speak to a doctor about it and get the help that you need.

How a doctor can help with your phobia

Our doctors will take the time to explore the issue with you fully. They will listen to you and get a good understanding of your symptoms and gather all the required information they need to be able to give you an accurate diagnosis.

They may refer you to a specialist, such as a psychologist, who is an expert in behavioural therapies. They will work with you to try and understand why you react the way you do, and teach you mechanisms to help you cope when faced with your fear.

They may also refer you for some tests to see if your symptoms are caused by something else - for example, if you have palpitations, it could be as a result of an underlying heart or thyroid gland.

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