Difference Between Anxiety and Phobia

Anxiety vs Phobia

Anxiety and Phobia are two different conditions between which we can identify some differences. Anxiety is the feeling of apprehension and worry, which becomes a disorder when it disrupts the daily routine of the individual. On the other hand, phobia is an excessive fear of certain objects and situations. This is the main difference between anxiety and phobia. Phobias fall under anxiety disorders. Through this article, let us comprehend the difference between anxiety and phobia while gaining an understanding of each term.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is the feeling of unease, worrying, and apprehension. When we encounter a difficult situation, it is natural to feel uneasy. For example, imagine the case of a student who is about to face an examination. The results of this exam can have a huge impact on the future career avenues of the student. It is only to be expected that the student would feel anxious. Not only this, when facing an interview, when speaking in public, waiting for an important piece of news, we all feel anxious and worried. However, there are situations where anxiety becomes overwhelming and out of proportion to circumstances. This kind of anxiety is considered as an anxiety disorder. In such a situation, the anxiety is out of proportion to the actual danger.

According to psychologists, there are a number of anxiety disorders. Generalized anxiety disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and panic disorder are some such disorders. Phobias are also categorized under anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders have a range of symptoms, based on the specific disorder. Some of the common symptoms that can be seen are difficulty in sleeping, feelings of anxiety, fear, nausea, and muscle tension. But these can differ from one disorder to another. It has to be borne in mind that, unlike in the case of anxiety, anxiety disorders interfere significantly with the individual’s daily routine.

Difference Between Anxiety and Phobia

Anxiety is the feeling of unease, worrying and apprehension

What is Phobia?

A phobia is an intense fear that an individual feels, when in reality there is little or no danger. People have various phobias. Some of the common phobias are of animals such as insects, natural environments such as heights, water, and situational fears such as of planes, elevators and, of blood. Other than these, there are other phobias such as social phobia, agoraphobia. Social phobia is an extreme fear of social or performance situations. In such situations, the individual fears that he will act in a humiliating manner in front of others. Hence, he attempts to avoid the situation. Agoraphobia is marked by the fear of being in open spaces, using public transportation, being in enclosed places, standing in line or being in a crowd, being outside of the home alone. Phobias can be treated with the use of certain therapies and counseling.

 Anxiety vs Phobia

Fear of heights is a phobia

What is the difference between Anxiety and Phobia?

• Anxiety is the feeling of unease, worrying, and apprehension whereas phobia is an intense fear that an individual feels when in reality there is little or no danger.

• Anxiety is natural as we all feel anxious in difficult situations, but phobias are not. They are considered as disorders that need to be treated.

• Anxiety can become a disorder when it disrupts the individual’s daily routine. Phobias are also considered as a type of anxiety disorder.


Image Courtesy:

  1. Melancholy by 7mike5000 (CC BY 2.5)
  2. Fear of height by McZusatz (CC BY 2.0)