Course of specific phobia

Individuals with specific phobias acquire their fear(s) early in life, and the disorder persists for many years. (112) For many individuals, specific phobias are not sufficiently impairing for them to seek treatment. Often individuals with specific phobias adapt their lifestyle to avoid contact with the feared stimulus, such that only persons with the most severe specific phobias seek treatment. Events that commonly precipitate treatment-seeking include a change in lifestyle such that the feared stimulus becomes intolerable (for instance, accepting a job that requires frequent air travel), and the experience of a panic attack in anticipation or in the presence of the feared stimulus. Improvement in specific phobia is unlikely unless the person seeks effective treatment.

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