Phobia diagnosis

If your experience with anxiety or a phobia is affecting your everyday life, you should make an appointment to speak with your GP.

Your GP will ask questions about the symptoms you are experiencing and may run other tests to rule out any physical health issues. Diagnosis of phobias are normally carried out by a mental health professional against a verified assessment tool such as the International Classification of Diseases 11th Revision (ICD-11) developed by the World Health Organisation.

To be diagnosed as having a phobia you will display the following:

  • A persistent fear that is excessive and irrational, and that occurs by the presence or anticipation of a specific object, animal, event, or situation.
  • Exposure to the feared object or a situation which triggers an immediate anxiety response, which may take the form of a panic attack but may also involve anger, fleeing, crying, or freezing.
  • The person recognises the fear is excessive. This may be absent in children with specific phobias.
  • The subject of the phobia is either avoided or endured only with intense anxiety and distress.
  • The avoidance, anxious anticipation, or distressed caused by the phobia significantly impairs normal routine, work, relationships, or social activities, or there is anxiety about the phobia itself.
  • The fear is persistent, usually for at least six months.
  • The anxiety, panic attacks, or avoidance associated with the specific phobia is not better explained by another mental disorder, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, social phobia, separation anxiety disorder, etc.

Phobias, especially specific ones, are not always formally diagnosed, especially if the individual can avoid or manage the engagement with the activity or object thereby reducing its impact on daily life.

It may feel like your symptoms cannot improve, but treatment and recovery from phobia is possible.

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Just £10 could help pay for a call to our advice and information line, supporting someone living with mental illness who may be feeling in distress during this time.