We all have at least one thing that frightens us and makes us uneasy. However, some people have strong irrational and involuntary fear reactions that makes them avoid common things, situations, and objects even though they are aware that there isn’t any real danger. People who experience these out of control fears have a phobia.
A phobia is defined as a type of anxiety disorder which is characterized by the extreme form of fear or anxiety that is triggered by a particular object or situation. We all have fear of particular object or situation but a fear becomes a phobia when it throws a significant impact on day to day life.
There are several factors that can play an important role in developing phobias such as particular incidents or traumas, long term stress, genetics, and some environmental factors.
Symptoms of Phobia
A phobia can affect a different person differently and the severity of the symptoms can also vary from person to person. Some of the common symptoms of phobia include:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Tingling sensation
- Tightening in chest
- Fear of dying
- Fear of losing control
Types of phobias
Phobias can roughly be categorized into two groups - specific phobias and complex phobias.
1. Specific phobias - Specific phobias are the phobias that often develop in childhood or adolescence. Specific phobias include phobias of animals (such as insects, snakes, and dogs), natural environment (such as height and water), body based phobia (such as blood and injections).
2. Complex phobias - Complex phobias are of serious types and throw a disabling impact of life. Complex phobias are of two types:
- Social phobia - It is also known as social anxiety disorder and under this condition, individual feels an extreme sense of fear and anxiety in social situations.
- Agoraphobia - It is a fear of open spaces and it is characterized by the anxiousness in being alone inside or outside the home, being in a lift, and being in a crowd. Agoraphobia can have a serious impact on the life and many people with this phobia find it hard to even get out of their home.
Acrophobia is one of the most prevalent types of phobia and it is characterized by an extreme fear of height. According to the research, 1 in every 20 adults are suffering from acrophobia and it involves behavior like avoiding various height related circumstances such as terraces, bridges, and elevators. Acrophobia belongs to the category of specific phobia. When exposed to height, many people experience the degree of fear, known as fear of falling and those people who have little fear of the exposure to height, known as head for heights.
Aerophobia, also known as aviophobia or fear of flying is characterized by the fear of being on any flying vehicle such as an airplane or helicopter. Aerophobia is quite common. Many individuals having aerophobia complains of the anxiety and the sense of shame they experience due to fear of flying. Sometimes, this phobia is harmful to the business career of an individual as they might have to travel long distance for business purpose.
Aquaphobia is a fear of water and people suffer from this type of phobia in many ways. It has a significant impact on the daily life and people suffering from this type of phobia needs a treatment. It involves behavior like avoiding activities such as boating, swimming and avoid getting splashed with water. Various psychologists indicate that a fear of water can result from the combination of experimental and genetic factors.
Astraphobia, also known as brontophobia and tonitrophobia is defined as a fear of thunder and lightning. An individual suffering from astraphobia feels anxious during the thunderstorm and feels that the thunderstorm can be a threat to them. Symptoms of astraphobia are similar to that of other phobias such as pounding of the heart, shaking, and trembling. Researchers have often noticed that people having this type of phobia spend a great deal of time in tracking the weather reports. Astraphobia belongs to the category of specific phobia.
Cynophobia is defined as a fear of dogs. Cynophobia affects people in different ways and many people having this type of phobia feels anxious in the presence of a dog. On the other hand, some people experience panic attacks when they come in contact with any dog or even when they see any picture of a dog. Cynophobia is not a normal fear of dog but it is an excessive fear that can have a significant negative impact on the life of an individual. Most often, it results from the personal traumatic experience of an individual such as being bitten by a dog.
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