A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder. It is a strong, irrational fear of something that poses little or no actual danger. There are many specific phobias. Acrophobia is a fear of heights. You may be able to sky dive but be unable to go above the 5th floor of an office building. Glossophobia is a fear of public speaking, and claustrophobia is a fear of closed-in places. If you become anxious and extremely self-conscious in everyday social situations, you could have a social phobia. Other common phobias involve needles, highway driving, water, flying, animals and blood.
People with phobias try to avoid what they are afraid of. If they cannot, they may experience
- Panic and fear
- Increase heartbeat rate
- Shortness of breath
- Trembling and seizures
- A strong desire to escape
Treatment helps most people with phobias. Options include medicines, therapy or both.
According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), a phobia is an irrational and excessive fear of an object or situation. In most cases, the phobia causes excessive fear of the situation. For example, those suffering from aerophobia, or the fear of flying, are afraid of being trapped in plane being helpless.
Exposure to the fear can sometimes heighten stress levels and escalate into a anxiety attack or to avoid the situation or object entirely. With this possibility, individuals begin to isolate themselves from friends and family, leading to severe social integration into society. Other seek medical care to help overcome this constant fear of endangerment and imagined illnesses.
If you have a phobia, you probably realize your fear is exaggerated, yet you can’t control your emotions. Just the thought of the object or situation makes you anxious and your heart starts to race. And when you’re exposed to the thing you fear, you are overwhelmed and lose control.
“Normal” fear or phobia?
Fear is an adaptive human response. In many dangerous situations our fight-or-flight response is triggered and you are ready to either stand your ground or choose to avoid the confrontational situation. Either way, your body and mind is working together so you can quickly protect yourself from harm.
But with phobias, the threat is exponentially exaggerated, or nonexistent. For example, it is natural to be afraid of a Pitbull dog in a attacking stance. But to panic when you see someone walking a Yorkie on a leash is unreasonable – as you might be suffering from cynophobia, or dog phobia.
Common Types of Fears and Phobias
- Fear of Animals. People who are afraid of creatures from snakes and rats to chickens and otters, etc.
- Situational Phobias (fears triggered by a specific situation). Thousands of people are afraid to drive, scared to travel by air, refuse to leave their homes, etc. These phobias cause severe social anxiety and can interfere with keeping a job, visiting families, and having a normal life.
- Medical, Injection-Injury Phobias. Fear of needles, afraid of doctor visits, scared to take medicine are all examples of phobias that prevent people who have medical phobias get proper treatment.
- Natural Environment. Being afraid of strong winds, fear of rain, and fear of lightning and thunder causes people to avoid leaving the comfort of their home.
Common phobias and fears
Signs and Symptoms of Phobias
Symptoms of phobias and range from mild anxieties to a full-blown paralyzing panic attack. Your proximity to the thing you fear has a direct effect on the severity of your fear. The closer you are, the greater the fear. Telltale signs of a phobia can be identified through physical and emotional signals.
Emotional signs and symptoms
- Feeling an intense need to disappear
- Feeling of losing control or going crazy
- Feeling of heightened anxiety and stress
- Feeling like you’re going to die or black out
Physical signs and symptoms
- Difficulty breathing
- Hot or cold flashes
- Chest pains
Want to learn more about phobias? Here’s the place to learn about phobias. On this page, you will find a complete list of phobias, it’s symptoms, causes, and methods of getting rid of phobias.
If you know what phobia you are suffering from, you’ve also come to the right place. Here we share experiences and discuss with others on what to do once you identify what you are afraid of. FearOfStuff is here to help you along the way.
- Anxiety, Fears, and Phobias in Children
- Raising a Child Suffering from Phobias
- Social Phobia
- Your Adolescent’s Avoidance Behavior