Now accepting Telehealth appointments. Schedule a virtual visit.

The Difference Between Fear and Phobia

According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, between 12-13% of American adults experience phobias at some point in their lives. The stats are much higher for adolescents, with an estimated 19% experiencing phobias. 

Because a phobia can negatively impact your quality of life, Dr. Hadi Estakhri at Allied Psychiatry and Mental Health suggests you give us a call if you’re experiencing fears or anxious feelings. We offer evidence-based treatments to help you overcome your phobias. 

That said, it’s not always easy to know the difference between a fear and a phobia. In this blog, we uncover the differences to help you understand what you're experiencing so you can find relief.

The difference between fear and phobia

The terms fear and phobia are often used interchangeably, but there's a difference between these two concepts.


Fear is an emotional response. A person can react fearfully to either a real threat or a perceived threat. Fear can be a good thing as it helps you avoid a potentially dangerous situation.

You can develop fears of many things, including dogs or flying in an airplane. Some people develop a fear response (such as shaking or sweating) when they confront their fear.


Phobia is a response to something that is not a threat. This is why phobias are sometimes called irrational fears. The response is so intense it may interfere with your ability to function or perform daily tasks. Simply thinking about the feared item can trigger symptoms of anxiety. 

How much the phobia affects your life is called an impairment, and this can range from mild to severe. If you have a phobia, you might develop a fear response even if you’re not face-to-face with the item. For example, if you have a phobia of crowds, just thinking about a crowd could trigger shaking or sweating.

How to get diagnosed

One of the first things to determine is how your specific fear or phobia impacts your life. The good news is, you don’t have to figure this out alone.

During your psychological exam at Allied Psychiatry and Mental Health, Dr. E can determine if you have a fear or phobia. We can also diagnose and treat co-occurring mental health conditions such as anxiety.

Let us help!

Don’t let a phobia keep you from living your best life. At Allied Psychiatry and Mental Health, we offer both adult and adolescent psychiatric services. 

If you’d like to find relief from your phobias, we’re just a call or click away. Schedule an appointment at our office in Newport Beach, California, by calling 949-258-7135. You can also visit our website to schedule an appointment.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Mental Health Comorbidities No One Talks About

Mental Health Comorbidities No One Talks About

Managing one mental health condition can be tough, but some people don’t have just one condition. Many have two or more. Here’s a look at five mental health comorbidities that no one talks about … until now.
Help! I Think My Spouse Is Bipolar

Help! I Think My Spouse Is Bipolar

Bipolar disorder is an often debilitating mental health condition, but it can be managed with the right treatment. If you suspect your spouse has bipolar disorder, what can you do? Find out here.
Managing ADHD in Adult Women

Managing ADHD in Adult Women

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is often regarded as a childhood mental health condition, but adults are also affected by it. Read on as we share tips for managing ADHD in adult women.