Phobias are a debilitating and overwhelming fear of an object, situation, place feeling or animal.

It is common for some to become anxious about specific situations or objects such as spiders, heights, flying or crowded places. A phobia, however,  is a type of anxiety disorder, that can be incredibly restrictive and distressing on a sufferers life.  If severe enough, an individual may alter their life and go to extreme lengths to try to avoid the thing that causes them fear.

Some people may not come in contact often with the source of their phobia regularly; meaning that it might not impact their everyday lives. However, some phobias, such as agoraphobia, can be incredibly complex illnesses. 

With professional support, people can overcome phobias. 

Signs and symptoms of a phobia

Signs and symptoms of a phobia can generally be categorised as psychological and physical.

Psychological signs and symptoms of a phobia

  • Feeling like you are losing control
  • Feeling like you are going to die
  • Feeling of dread

Physical signs and symptoms of a phobia

  • Shortness of breath, pain in the chest, racing heart
  • Headaches
  • Sweating
  • Hot flushes
  • Feeling faint
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Confusion

Treatment for phobias at Nightingale Hospital

Phobia treatment at Nightingale Hospital can take place as an outpatient, day patient or inpatient.  Our approach to treating phobias combines individualised programmes with treatments based on current clinical evidence. There are two types of treatment for phobias.


Psychotherapy or counselling can help you understand and find strategies to overcome your phobia. It can help us to understand and to come to terms with reasons for our anxieties that we may not have recognised ourselves. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can help you learn more positive emotional and behavioural responses to situations and feelings. The treatment can take place in groups or individually and is usually weekly for several weeks or months.


Medication can also be effective for your phobia. It may help you to feel less anxious and cope better so that you can start to enjoy life again. Drugs should be only used for short periods, perhaps to help during a crisis. They should not be used for longer-term treatment of anxiety.

Our phobia treatments here at Nightingale Hospital London can be as an outpatient, day patient or inpatient. We have the expertise to approach the support and treatment we offer you for your phobia in a personal and flexible way to benefit you the most in your recovery.

Through therapy and alternative approaches such as meditation, relaxation, sleep therapy and physical therapies we aim to give you the knowledge and coping skills for dealing with your phobia.

Helping those with anxiety and phobias

People with anxiety and phobias may not talk about these feelings, even with family or close friends. Even so, it is usually obvious that things are not right. The sufferer will tend to look pale and tense and may be easily startled by normal sounds such as a doorbell ringing or a car’s horn. They will tend to be irritable and this can cause arguments with those close to them, especially if they do not understand why the sufferer feels that they cannot do certain things. Although friends and family can understand the distress caused by anxiety, they can find it difficult to live with, especially if the fears seem unreasonable.

Talking about the problem

This can help when the anxiety comes from recent knocks, like a spouse, leaving, a child becoming ill or losing a job. Try friends or relatives who you trust, whose opinions you respect, and who are good listeners. They may have had the same problem themselves, or know someone else who has. As well as having the chance to talk, we may be able to find out how other people have coped with a similar problem.

SeIf-help groups

These are a good way of getting in touch with people with similar problems. They will both be able to understand what you are going through, but also may be able to suggest helpful ways of coping. These groups may be focused on anxieties and phobias or may be made up of people who have been through similar experiences – women’s groups, bereaved parent’s groups, survivors of abuse groups.

Useful resources

“When you have a problem and you drink, take drugs or gamble, the problem won’t go away. Stay and tackle the problem”