A phobia is defined as the unrelenting fear of a situation, activity, or thing that causes one to want to avoid it. Lifetime prevalence of specific phobias appears to be approximately 5%. However, rates vary widely in different countries, from less than 1% in Northern Ireland to approximately 9% in the United States.
Specific phobias have effectively been treated with behavior therapy1 where classical conditioning thinking is that the response of phobic fear is a reflex acquired to non-dangerous stimuli. Therapy sometimes involves setting up phobic treatment involving exposure to the phobic stimulus in a safe and controlled setting. Flooding, physical and imaginative until the fear fades away can also be used.
Pharmacology, including SSRIs, MAOIs, RIMAs, TeCA, Benzodiazepines have been used as treatment options but more recently It has been shown that a combination of acute dosing of d-cycloserine, an old antibiotic medication used for treating tuberculosis, with exposure therapy facilitates the effects of exposure therapy of social phobia.
1. Marks, I. M. (1987). Fears, phobias, and rituals: Panic, anxiety, and their disorders. New York: Oxford University Press.