A phobia is an anxiety disorder which is characterised by a persistent and excessive fear of a specific object or situation, in which the fear is not just excessive, but typically is out of proportion in response to the trigger for the fear. Neophobia, which is a type of a specific phobia, can be characterised as extreme or irrational fear or dislike of anything new or unfamiliar. For example, it is quite common for children to develop a fear of new food items, or new places.
“In addition, such an anxiety typically leads to intense distress in the presence of the trigger, as well as in anticipation of the same. As a consequence, the individual tends to develop an avoidance of such situations in the future, indulging in ‘safety behaviours’. It is important to note that the symptoms are not in proportion to the stimulus and are not in tandem with the socio-cultural context for the individual,” Dr Samir Parikh, consultant psychiatrist, director of Department of Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences, Fortis Healthcare.