, Volume 45, Issue 12, pp 1161-1166,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 04 Nov 2009

Specific phobia predicts psychopathology in young women



Although specific phobia is characterized by an early age at onset and by high rates of comorbidity, few studies have examined comorbid relationships prospectively.


The present study investigated the association between specific phobia and the risk of a broad range of psychopathology among young women in the community.


Data came from the Dresden Predictor Study in which 1,538 German women (18–25 years) completed a diagnostic interview at two time points.


Women with specific phobia had a twofold increase in odds of developing any anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, depression, and any somatoform disorder during 17 months, compared to women without specific phobia. Except for depression, these associations persisted after adjustment for all comorbid mental disorders.


Specific phobia thus appears to be a risk factor for a variety of problems. The result further underpins the necessity for early intervention for specific phobia to prevent later mental health problems.