Phobias aren’t just extreme fears; they are irrational fears. People with phobias realize their fears do not make sense but often facing, or even thinking about facing, the feared object or situation brings on a panic attack or severe anxiety beyond control. Linguistically, phobia is defined as the unrelenting fear of a situation, activity, or thing that causes one to want to avoid it. There are three types of phobias: social phobia (fear of public speaking, meeting new people, or other social situations), agoraphobia (fear of being outside), and specific phobias (fear of particular items or situations). Many people experience the last ones; intense, irrational fears of certain things or situations – dogs, closed-in places, heights, escalators, tunnels, highway driving, water, flying, and even injuries involving blood. So here we’re bringing you all about phobias: causes, symptoms and most common types. Join us as we explore the fears and set yourself free!!
What are the causes and risk factors for phobias?
While there is no one specific known cause for phobias, it is thought that phobias run in families, are influenced by culture and how one is parented, and can be triggered by life events. Immediate family members of people with phobias are about three times more likely to also suffer from a phobia than those who do not have such a family history. People whose parents either were overly protective or were distant in raising them may be at more risk of developing phobias. Phobia sufferers have been found to be more likely to manage stress by avoiding the stressful situation and by having difficulty minimizing the intensity of the fearful situation. Another possible contributor to the development of phobias is classical conditioning. As it relates to phobias, in classical conditioning, a person responds to something frightening by generalizing the fear of that specific object or situation to more generalized objects or situations. For example, an individual may respond to a real threat by one dog to a fear of all dogs.
What are the symptoms of phobias?
Symptoms of phobias often involve having a panic attack — in that they include feelings of panic, dread, or terror, despite recognition that those feelings are excessive in relationship to any real danger — as well as physical symptoms like shaking, sweating, trouble thinking clearly, nausea, rapid heartbeat, trouble breathing, and an overwhelming desire to escape the situation that is causing the phobic reaction. Also, extreme measures are sometimes taken to avoid or escape the situation.
How can people deal with phobias?
Ways that phobia sufferers can work toward overcoming their fears include talking about their fears, refraining from avoiding situations they find stressful, imagining themselves facing their fears (visualization), and making positive self-statements like, “I will be OK.” In fact, when self-help approaches are combined with brief psychotherapy, people with phobias may achieve significant improvement in symptoms.
THE 10 MOST COMMON PHOBIAS!!
1- Bugs, Mice, Snakes, and Bats (Arachnophobia).
They’re unpredictable, creepy-crawly, and possibly poisonous – who wouldn’t be afraid? Spiders are the most common phobia. The fear of spiders is close to the top of our common phobias list. This phobia, known as arachnophobia is usually in the domain of women as 50% of them are terrified of spiders while only 10% of men are affected. The extent of this phobia can vary with some people having a mild form of this fear while others will panic even if they see a picture of a spider.
2- Heights (Altophobia).
We’re afraid of them because we can’t fly and we could fall. These are reasonable reasons for being anxious at the top of cliffs! Do you have a fear of heights? If so, then you’re one of the millions of people worldwide who suffer from this fear one way or another. In fact, its so common that almost everyone has been affected by it at some stage in their lives & this is why it makes it to the top of our common phobias list. Most people who are affected by the fear of heights phobia will instinctively avoid all places where height is involved. Some will have a severe form of this phobia and will even avoid going up a few feet on a ladder. The thing is that you can get by without this fear having a major impact on your life. This is the reason why so many just live with it. However, wouldn’t it be better to just rid yourself of this fear once and for all? Wouldn’t life be far better without having to make excuses to your friends that you can’t go because you know there’s height involved.
3- Water (Hydrophobia).
Fear of water can be natural or acquired due to a near-drowning experience.
4- Public Transportation (Publiphobia).
We feel more vulnerable in public crowded places because we have less control over other people or situations. Fleeing is much more difficult, making crowded places a source of anxiety.
5- Storms (Astrapophobia).
Hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, and even thunderstorms can cause irrational anxiety – because we know the damage they can cause.
6- Closed Spaces (Claustrophobia).
Feeling trapped (imagine being in a coffin!) feels horrible. Evolutionary roots involve animals and traps or cages – our need to be free makes this a common phobia. this phobia is on our most common phobias list as there are many people who are affected by it. Its usually something we carry from childhood when we were locked into a small cupboard by one of our friends or some other confined space. It’s a debilitating phobia because it can affect many areas of our lives from flying to small spaces at home or at work. Deep down, many people suffer from this common phobia.
7- Tunnels and Bridges (Gephyrophobia).
Going through a tunnel is similar to being in a closed space, which makes you feel vulnerable. The fear of small spaces is a common phobia.
8- Crowds (Sociophobia).
Similar to being on crowded public transportation, huge groups of people can make us feel trapped and vulnerable. This common phobia is related to the fear of public speaking.
9- Speaking in Public (Glossophobia).
We feel like we’ll be judged, we worry what we look and sound like, and some of us have anxiety attacks. Its easy to see why this fear has made it into our common phobias list. We’ve all been there at some stage of our lives, whether its a speech you had to make at work or a wedding speech, you had to stand up in front of many people and talk, its one of our most common fears. Its a worst case scenario for many people, they worry about making a fool of themselves, they worry that they’ll get it all wrong and everyone will start talking about them. This couldn’t be further from the truth. This phobia is very common and so it goes without saying that most of the people in the audience are also affected by it. What this means is that everyone in the audience supports you, they want you to succeed & no one is going to laugh when if you make a cock up.
10- Fear of the Dark (darkophobia).
Being afraid of the dark is one of those fears which will forever be in the top list of common phobias. It’s instinctive; we fear what we can’t see. However, sometimes this fear can be so strong that it imprints onto our brain and we then have a full blown phobia. When we are young, we are naturally afraid of the dark, we won’t go to sleep unless the nightlight is on or the door is kept a jar, you remember those days, right?.
By Dalia Mansour