Many of us have anxieties linked to heights, water, spiders and more. But when one or more of these fears become so debilitating that one is forced to avoid visiting a friend just because she lives on the 25th floor, the anxiety is defined as a phobia.
What Are Phobias?
A phobia is an irrational anxiety or fear associated with specific conditions like heights, spiders, darkness, etc; this fear can sometimes be so extreme that it can make life a little more complicated than it already is.
While these specific situations may not completely disrupt an individual’s everyday life, more severe ones like social phobia, which causes a fear of being negatively judged or even rejected in a social situation, can make life difficult. People with severe forms of agoraphobia find it unbearable to leave their homes, making it difficult to go to school or work, shop and enjoy the fun things in life.
Specific phobias, like the fear of water, spiders or being alone, are the more common types, and studies show that nearly 19 million adults in the U.S. suffer from some type of specific phobia. Phobias might start manifesting during childhood and are said to be caused by a combination of biological, environmental and psychological factors and an individual’s genetic makeup.
Some of the most common phobias include:
- Acrophobia: Fear of heights
- Arachnophobia: Fear of spiders
- Claustrophobia: Fear of tight/closed spaces
- Monophobia: Fear of being alone
- Aquaphobia: Fear of water
- Agoraphobia: Fear of having situations that could cause a panic attack
- Mysophobia: Fear of germs
Apart from these common phobias, there are some that are quite unusual, like:
- Venustraphobia: Fear of beautiful women
- Aurophobia: Fear of finding gold
- Papaphobia: Fear of the pope
- Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia: Fear of long words
- Phobophobia: Fear of phobias
Dealing with Phobias
Regardless of whether your phobias are severe or mild, dealing with them every day can become very tiresome. People suffering from phobias are known to be emotionally impacted because phobias can render these feelings:
- Be embarrassing: Having a phobia or phobias can be embarrassing because people with phobias sometimes feel like they are the only ones with that particular fear.
- Make you feel lonely and helpless: Phobias, especially ones like agoraphobia and social phobia, can lead to a feeling of helplessness and loneliness because people with these problems find it difficult to present themselves in the public eye.
- Cause severe anxiety: Anxiety makes it difficult to function and can disrupt even simple daily tasks like office work or driving.
Like with other emotional problems, the best way to deal with phobias is to talk to someone. Be it your partner, best friend or therapist, talking to someone can help deal with your specific phobia. Online or offline support groups may also be useful, as they could get you in touch with others who share the same phobia. Meditation may also help you divert your focus from your phobia to more positive thoughts.
While living with phobias can have a severe impact on your daily existence, know that help is always available in the form of friends, family and doctors. Reach out, speak out and find a way to overcome or take control over your phobia(s) to lead a more normal life.
Fritscher, L. (n.d.). Tips for Living with Phobias. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/living-with-phobias-2671975
The Most Common Phobias. (2013, March 19). Retrieved from https://www.elementsbehavioralhealth.com/mental-health/the-most-common-phobias/