Phobias are extreme and irrational fears that interfere with daily life. People with phobias have fears that are out of proportion to real danger. And although these people are aware that their fears are not rational, they are not able to control them.

Phobias are common and are sometimes present with other conditions, such as panic disorder or Tourette’s disorder. Most people deal with phobias by avoiding the situation or object that causes them to feel panic (avoidance behavior).

A phobic disorder occurs when the avoidance behavior becomes so extreme that it interferes with your ability to participate in your daily activities. There are three main types of phobic disorders:

* Fear of being alone or in public places where help might not be available or escape is impossible (agoraphobia)
* Fear of situations where the individual might be exposed to criticism by others (social phobia)
* Fear of specific things (specific phobia)

Use the Check Your Symptoms section to decide if and when you should see a doctor.