Phobias - Diagnosis 

Diagnosing phobias 

Simple phobias, such as a fear of heights, aren't usually formally diagnosed. Most people with a phobia tend to be fully aware of the problem.

Some people live with a phobia for many years by trying to avoid what they are afraid of.

However, you should see your GP if your phobia is interfering with your day-to-day life and preventing you from doing the things you enjoy.

In particular, you should consider seeking help if your phobia:

  • is causing intense fear, anxiety and panic
  • is making you avoid certain places or situations
  • is interfering with your daily routine or causing you significant distress
  • has lasted six months or longer

Your GP may refer you to a mental health specialist with expertise in behavioural therapy, such as a psychologist. 

Agoraphobia

Anxiety UK has produced a list of questions to help you determine whether you have agoraphobia. If you answer yes to most of the questions below, it's likely you have agoraphobia.

During the past six months:

  • have you been regularly avoiding situations because you're scared of having a panic attack?

Do any of the following situations make you feel anxious:

  • going outside, away from your home
  • standing in long queues
  • being in a confined space, such as tunnels, lifts or the London Underground
  • being at home alone
  • being in large open spaces, such as a park or field
  • being in crowded places

Do you avoid being in any of the above situations?

If you answered yes to most of these questions, see your GP. They will be able to make a formal diagnosis of agoraphobia and give you further information and advice.

Social phobia

Anxiety UK has also produced a list of questions to help determine whether you have social phobia. If you answer yes to most of the questions below, it's likely you have social phobia.

During the past six months:

  • have you been worried about embarrassing yourself in front of others?
  • have you been worried about what people might think of you?
  • have you felt anxious in social situations?

Do you worry about behaving anxiously in any of the following situations:

  • public speaking
  • eating and drinking in front of other people
  • writing in front of other people
  • going to parties and other social gatherings

Do you avoid any of the above situations because they make you feel anxious?

If you answered yes to most of these questions, see your GP. They will be able to formally diagnose social phobia and give you further information and advice.


Page last reviewed: 24/02/2014

Next review due: 24/02/2016

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Getting help for phobias

Whatever you have a phobia of, you don't have to live with your fear. Find out what you can do to overcome it