How is Fear different from Phobia?

Fear is a normal response to a threatful situation, but this fear when intensifies and causes excessive anxiety and discomfort, the term used is phobia.

Fear is defined as an inherent feeling that shields individuals from distress when one is experiencing genuine and approaching risk. Fear is like a natural reaction to any visible harm which does not lead to any serious dysfunction or discomfort. It can help an individual escape any real or a perceived danger. 

Phobia is an extreme fear or anxiety response linked with certain objects or situations. The fear response is so intense that it can even affect the normal functioning of an individual. Phobia is often referred to as an irrational fear as the fear is persistent even after knowing that the evidence of the fear is baseless. It is not necessary for the threat to be present physically to elicit the fear or anxiety response; mere thought about the feared object or situation can lead to symptoms of anxiety and distress.

The extent to which the phobia affects an individual’s normal functioning can range from mild to severe depending on the intensity of the fear or anxiety response. An individual’s phobia experience may include symptoms like an increased heart rate, difficulty breathing, frequent panic attacks, sweating and trembling, fainting, a choking sensation, numbness, and a fear of losing control over self. Phobia can be caused due to changes in brain activity or due to past experiences or as a result of learned behaviours.

Phobias can be treated using psychological interventions. Exposure therapy is often used as the first-choice for the treatment of phobias. The exposure may differ for individuals. Imaginal or virtual exposure and in vivo or direct exposure help in reducing the fear for specific objects or situations. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is also used in the treatment of phobias as it gives a better understanding about how thoughts and feelings impact one’s behavior. Relaxation techniques and soothing self-talk can help people feel relaxed, comfortable and confident to be able to face the fears. 

Importance of Professional Counseling: A friend or family member may listen to you, but they aren’t professionally, technically qualified or experienced to offer you professional advice. If you wish you can contact us at MindTribe to receive help from our team of expert psychologists.


MindTribe Founder Dr. Prerna Kohli, India’s eminent psychologist, established the company to leverage the strength of the online to make counseling affordable and accessible to everyone. MindTribe provides counseling, workshops, support groups, forums, and eLearning.

About the Author.

Shami Kundalia is a psychologist at You can learn more about her by clicking here

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of, the Founders, or management team.

Acknowledgement: All images used are open source and from Unsplash.


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