Fears and Phobias
“My phobias have stopped me doing many things, I really regret not dealing with them earlier, I missed out on so much”
What is a phobia?
A phobia is an irrational fear of something that’s unlikely to cause harm. The word itself comes from the Greek word phobos, which means fear or horror.
Hydrophobia, for example, literally translates to fear of water.
When someone has a phobia, they experience intense fear of a certain object or situation. Phobias are different than regular fears because they cause significant distress, possibly interfering with life at home, work, or school.
People with phobias actively avoid the phobic object or situation, or endure it with intense fear or anxiety.
Phobias are a type of anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are very common. They’re estimated to affect more than 30 percent of adults at some time in their lives.
Agoraphobia, a fear of places or situations that trigger fear or helplessness, is singled out as a particularly common fear with its own unique diagnosis. Social phobias, which are fears related to social situations, are also singled out with a unique diagnosis.
Specific phobias are a broad category of unique phobias related to specific objects and situations.
Phobias come in all shapes and sizes. Because there are an infinite number of objects and situations, the list of specific phobias is quite long.
Specific phobias typically fall within five general categories:
- Fears related to animals (spiders, dogs, insects)
- Fears related to the natural environment (heights, thunder, darkness)
- Fears related to blood, injury, or medical issues (injections, broken bones, falls)
- Fears related to specific situations (flying, riding an elevator, driving)
- Other (choking, loud noises, drowning)
These categories encompass an infinite number of specific objects and situations.
Fear of Fear:
There’s also such a thing as a fear of fears (phobophobia). This is actually more common than you might imagine.
People with anxiety disorders sometimes experience panic attacks when they’re in certain situations. These panic attacks can be so uncomfortable that people do everything they can to avoid them in the future.
For example, if you have a panic attack while sailing, you may fear sailing in the future, but you may also fear panic attacks or fear developing hydrophobia.
Common Phobias List:
A 1998 survey of more than 8,000 respondents published in the British Journal of Psychiatry Trusted Source found that some of the most common phobias include:
- Acrophobia, fear of heights
- Aerophobia, fear of flying
- Arachnophobia, fear of spiders
- Astraphobia, fear of thunder and lightning
- Autophobia, fear of being alone
- Claustrophobia, fear of confined or crowded spaces
- Hemophobia, fear of blood
- Hydrophobia, fear of water
- Ophidiophobia, fear of snakes
- Zoophobia, fear of animals
Specific phobias tend to be incredibly specific. Some so much so that they may only affect a handful of people at a time.
These are difficult to identify because most people don’t report unusual fears to their doctors.
Examples of some of the more unusual phobias include:
- Alektorophobia, fear of chickens
- Onomatophobia, fear of names
- Pogonophobia, fear of beards
- Nephophobia, fear of clouds
- Cryophobia, fear of ice or cold