Phobias are typically defined as an intense, often irrational, fear of a particular subject, place, or situation. People would try their best to avoid the subject of the phobia as best as possible. Facing the subject in question would typically instill heightened fear and anxiety to the individual.
A phobia is not the same as a fear, however. Many people might have several specific fears in their lives in situations that can be considered dangerous. A person with a phobia may be able to recognize that the situation in question may be harmless, but still experiences an overwhelming feeling of fear.
There is not a specific answer for what causes phobias. However, some reasons might include past experiences: Often times, phobias can develop because of some past experience related to an object or situation. Phobias can be triggered sometimes by the mention or sight of a familiar experience related to the original one.
Genetics and learned behaviors can also be a factor in specific phobias. For example, the phobia or fear that a parent has may be learned by the child of said parent.
Therapy can be a useful tool to help manage the symptoms of your specific phobia. Learning how to self soothe effectively and learn different strategies for how to regulate the emotions that come from experiencing the subject of the phobia can help when one comes face to face with a phobia.
Certain approaches to therapy, such as exposure therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), can focus on the subjects of the phobias themselves, as well as the specific thoughts and beliefs associated with them.