Difference between Fear and Phobia: according to a psychologist

Both fear and phobia are emotional states that result in physical responses, including faster heart, respiration, and pulse rates. These are related to circumstances that cause people to feel incredibly uncomfortable. Fear, like phobia, can be a learned response due to the negative stimulus. However, phobia is an unreasonable dread that is defined by a marked anticipation of a perceived threat, whereas fear is mostly an instinct that serves to protect creatures from genuine danger. These contrasts are explored in more detail in the sections that follow.

What is fear?

Living things experience fear, a negative emotion brought on by a threat, which alters brain activity and influences behavior. When something happens in the present or in the future that is viewed as a threat to one's life, health, security, or possession of something precious, fear is the natural reaction. Humans respond to fear in a variety of ways, including by fleeing, freezing, hiding, etc. They are brought on by the impression of danger, which leads to either avoiding the threat or confronting the fear-inducing situation. In extreme circumstances, this may also cause a freeze response or paralysis. Fear is a common emotion that is fueled by learning and cognition. Both illogical and inappropriate fear can be distinguished from rational and proper fear.

What is Phobia?

When a person has a phobia, they exhibit a persistent, irrational fear of a situation or an object and go to tremendous measures to avoid it, usually out of all proportion to the risk that it actually poses. This is a sort of anxiety disorder. It has been observed that if the circumstance cannot be completely avoided, the person will experience extreme anguish and will find it difficult to engage in social or professional activities. Social phobias, particular phobias, and agoraphobia are the most common categories used to describe phobias. Acrophobia, or the fear of heights, and arachnophobia, or the fear of spiders, are examples of specific phobias. Social phobias include discomfort in crowded places or a persistent fear of public speaking. Agoraphobia is the fear of leaving a familiar setting, such as your house, and the potential panic episodes this could cause. However, some phobias, like xenophobia, cross several of these boundaries.

The distinction between fear and phobia


While phobia's etymology is more emotionally severe with the term "terror," fear may be traced back to the word "danger".


In general, fear is essential for survival since it warns creatures of real danger. However, phobia hinders a person's ability to perform in their social, occupational, and other areas since the worry they feel is excessive.


A fear is triggered by actual danger, whereas a phobia is triggered by an imagined threat. People who have phobias envision unneeded aggravations that can necessitate mental care.

Emotional Response Duration:

When the threat's source is absent, fear fades away. On the other hand, phobias cause worry that lasts for at least six months.


Fear is more closely related to instincts than phobia because it is a primal emotional reaction to anything unpleasant or new, and because fear reactions are present from birth.

Managing the Emotional Reaction:

People who feel fear can easily control their discomfort since they can keep going about their everyday lives even after the threat has passed. However, phobia sufferers endure crippling effects since the fear is frequently uncontrollable and overwhelming, necessitating the assistance of a therapist who employs a variety of techniques, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), exposure-based therapies, and psychopharmacotherapy.