Life-changing online care for phobia

Our providers understand the challenges of phobia, and have real-world experience helping people just like you.

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Our Care

Expert care, tailored to you

Different people experience phobia in different ways. That’s why our providers work 1:1 with you to personalize treatment to your unique needs.

Personalized Psychiatry

When medication is necessary, our psychiatric providers analyze 100+ data points to determine the most tolerable and effective prescription for you.

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Clinically-Proven Therapy

Our program combines cognitive and behavioral therapy with independent skill practice—all of which have been clinically proven to work for a wide range of symptoms.

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Mental Health condition

Understanding phobia

People with phobias often have panic attacks when faced with the thing they fear. The symptoms of the panic attack can occur suddenly and without warning.

What is phobia?

Phobia is an intense, persistent, irrational fear of a specific situation, activity, object, or person. Usually, the feelings of fear are significantly greater than the actual danger or threat. People with phobias are highly distressed and preoccupied about feeling the fear, and often will go to great lengths to avoid the object or situation in question.

There are five different types of specific phobias. These include: Animal Type (e.g. dogs, snakes, spiders), Natural Environment Type (e.g., heights, storms, water), Blood-Injection-Injury Type (e.g. fear of seeing blood, receiving a blood test or shot), Situational Type (e.g., airplanes, elevators, driving, enclosed places), and Other Types (e.g., phobic avoidance of situations that may lead to choking, vomiting, or contracting an illness).

Symptoms of phobia:

In addition to overwhelming feelings of anxiety, a panic attack can cause physical symptoms, such as:

  • Sweating and trembling
  • Hot flashes or chills
  • Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, or a choking sensation
  • Rapid heartbeat and pain or tightness in the chest
  • A sensation of butterflies in the stomach
  • Nausea or a need to go to the bathroom
  • Headaches, dizziness, or feeling faint
  • Numbness or pins and needles
  • Dry mouth

In addition to the physical symptoms, psychological symptoms may also occur. These include:

  • Fear of losing control
  • Fear of fainting
  • Feelings of dread
  • Fear of dying


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Proactive Progress Tracking

Complete weekly check-ins so your provider can track your progress and, if necessary, adjust your treatment and/or medication.

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What’s on your mind?

If your question isn’t answered below, view our full list of FAQs here.

Brightside is available to people 18 years and older in the states where Brightside operates who believe they may be experiencing depression and may benefit from treatment.

Remote care is not a good fit for people with certain conditions or situations. These include (but are not limited to):

  • Previous suicide attempt or active suicide planning
  • Ongoing, high risk self-harm behavior
  • Recent involuntary hospitalization for psychiatric reasons
  • Schizophrenia or any symptoms of psychosis
  • Certain severities of Bipolar Disorder and symptoms of mania
  • Substance abuse problems
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Eating disorder with high-risk symptoms
  • Kidney or liver disease, seizures, or long QT (for Psychiatry plan only)

Our providers do not treat, and do not prescribe for adhd.

If any of these describe you, it’s best for you to be seen by a provider in person so you can get the care that’s right for you.

Brightside makes it easy to get top quality depression care from the privacy of home.

Here’s how Psychiatry works:

  1. Take the assessment: Answer questions about yourself to provide the information your provider will need to thoroughly evaluate your situation.
  2. Connect with a psychiatric provider: Get matched with an expert psychiatric provider for a comprehensive video consultation. Share how you’re feeling, then decide on the best next steps — together. These conversations normally last about 15 minutes to review your situation, discuss your care plan, and answer any questions you may have. 
  3. Follow your care plan: If the provider chooses to prescribe, your medication will be sent to your local pharmacy. Your plan also includes digital therapy, and self-care tools you can use at your own pace.
  4. Make progress: We’ll ask you to tell us about your symptoms and side effects weekly, allowing the provider to monitor your progress and make any necessary changes to your care plan, so you can get the best results.

Here’s how Therapy works:

  1. Take the assessment: Tell us what you’re experiencing, and we’ll help you understand what it means.
  2. Connect with a Therapist: Connect with an expert, licensed therapist by messaging and with access to one 45-minute video appointment included with your subscription each week. You will continue to have Unlimited messaging support and guidance to help you build skills and feel better.
  3. Complete sessions: Complete personalized, self-paced audio lessons and practice exercises, building the evidence-based skills and habits you need to overcome your depression and anxiety.
  4. Make Progress: Report back on what’s working well for you and where you want to go deeper with the option to purchase additional video sessions if you choose. Your therapist will help guide you through your personalized program so you see the best results.

When scheduling your first appointment, you can browse all of our available providers in your state. Take a look at their profiles and check open times to find the best fit for you. Every Brightside provider undergoes a rigorous hiring and vetting process to ensure the highest quality care.

Brightside currently accepts select insurance plans in various states for payment of your provider’s or therapist’s services. Please see below for a current listing of plans. Brightside may not be included in all plans that each health insurance company offers. Please contact your health insurance plan to verify that your care at Brightside will be covered.

We currently accept the following insurance plans:

  • Cigna (all states, except MN)
  • Aetna (nationwide)
  • Allegience (nationwide)
  • Anthem (CA only)
  • United Health (select states)

If you are a new member signing up for services you can enter your insurance information during the sign-up process. We’ll let you know your eligibility, as well as you estimated co-pays and out-of-pocket costs (if any) before signing-up or scheduling.

We also accept HSA/FSA payment if you have one of those accounts. If you have questions about using your medical or prescription insurance benefits, please contact us by emailing [email protected].

The onset of a specific phobia is complex, and there are a few different causes and risk factors at play. These include:

  • Direct learning experiences: Specific phobias can sometimes begin following a traumatic experience. For example, if you were bitten by a dog as a child, you might develop a fear of dogs. If you had a car accident, you might develop a fear of driving or riding in a car.
  • Observational learning experiences: Some people may learn to fear certain situations by observing others show signs of fear in that situation. For example, if you grew up with a mother who was afraid of heights, you may learn to also fear heights.
  • Informational learning: Sometimes, people develop specific phobias after hearing or reading about a situation that may be dangerous. For example, you might learn to fear flying after watching news footage of a plane crash.

However, it is important to remember that learning is not the sole cause of specific phobias. Many people are bitten by dogs or get into car accidents and do not go on to develop phobias.

Risk factors for phobias may also include a genetic component, but not much is known about the biological factors that cause and maintain specific phobias. What we do know is that when someone encounters a feared stimulus, many biological changes occur in the body, including changes in brain activity, the release of cortisol, insulin, and growth hormone, and increases in blood pressure and heart rate.

If you have a specific fear or phobia that is interfering with your everyday life, it might be time to make an appointment to see your doctor. If left untreated, phobias can interfere with your personal relationships and prevent you from functioning normally at home, school, or work.

A medical provider will diagnose you with a phobia based on the following criteria:

  • Exposure to the feared item or situation almost always leads to an immediate anxiety response, which may take the form of a panic attack
  • You recognize that the fear is excessive or out of proportion to the actual threat posed
  • You avoid the phobic situation(s), or endure it with intense anxiety or distress
  • The avoidance, anxious anticipation, or distress during the feared situation(s) interferes significantly with your normal routine, functioning at work or school, social activities or relationships, or there is marked distress about having the phobia
  • The fear is persistent, typically lasting for at least six months

The medical provider is likely to ask about current symptoms and family history, particularly whether other family members have had phobias. You may want to report any experience or trauma that may have triggered the phobia (i.e., a dog bite leading to a fear of dogs).

It may be helpful to discuss how you react—your thoughts, feelings and physical symptoms— when you are confronted with the thing you fear. It might also be helpful to describe what you do to avoid fearful situations, and how the phobia affects your daily life, including your job and your personal relationships.

Phobias are typically treated using a combination of medication and therapy.

Short-term medication is sometimes prescribed to treat the side effects of phobias, such as anxiety or panic attacks. If the phobia is confronted only occasionally, as in a fear of flying, the use of medication can be limited.

Antidepressants are often prescribed to help reduce the anxiety associated with phobias. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are most often prescribed to treat anxiety, social phobia, or panic disorder.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help ease the symptoms of a phobia—especially when a technique called exposure therapy is implemented. Exposure therapy involves gradually increasing your exposure to the thing you fear, at your own pace, under controlled circumstances. As you are exposed to the object, you are taught to master your fear through various strategies including relaxation, breathing control, or other anxiety-reducing techniques.

Self-Care, Coping, and Support
Many treatment plans for phobias involve aspects of self-care. This can include:

  • Maintaining a healthy diet
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Exercising on a regular basis
  • Managing stress & practicing mindfulness
  • Engaging in enjoyable/creative activities
  • Taking prescribed medications correctly and discussing any potential side effects with your healthcare providers
  • Watching for early signs that your symptoms may be worsening, and having a plan in place for how to respond if they do
  • Surrounding yourself with positive and supportive influences
  • Talking to trusted family members and friends about how you are feeling

If you’re in emotional distress, text HOME to connect with a counselor immediately.


Call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for 24/7 emotional support.


If you’re having a medical or mental health emergency, call 911 or go to your local ER.