Phobias are a common anxiety disorder. With phobias, there is a persistent, disabling fear of an object or situation. Phobias can involve animals -- particularly dogs, snakes, insects and mice. Phobias can also involve closed spaces, heights, air travel, places, social situations or being alone in public. Contact with the object or situation will cause an immediate anxiety response. This response can include feeling panicky, sweating, difficulty breathing, increased heart rates and other physical symptoms.

Phobias often interfere with the person's everyday functioning, social activities or relationships.

Phobias can begin at any age and are more often diagnosed in women. Between 9 and 12 percent of all Americans suffer from phobias.

Signs of phobia:

  • Persistent and uncontrollable fear of an object or situation
  • Upon exposure to the object or situation, the individual experiences an immediate physical response
  • The individual avoids -- or endures with intense anxiety -- the object or situation
  • The person realizes this fear is excessive or unreasonable

If you or someone you know is suffering from some of the symptoms of a phobia, call for help.