Phobia is a term that refers to a group of symptoms brought on by feared objects or situations. People can develop phobic reactions to animals (spiders), activities (flying on an airplane), or social situations (eating in public). Phobias affect people of all ages, from all walks of life, and in every part of the country.

Phobias can interfere with a person’s ability to work, socialize, and have a daily routine. The phobias can focus on something as common as germs, or they may come whenever a person leaves home. A phobia that interferes with daily living creates extreme disability and should be treated.

It is estimated that about 10% of the general population in the U.S. has phobias. They are the most common mental disorder, with more than twice as many women as men having a specific phobia.