What Are Phobias?

The official definition of a phobia according to the American Psychiatric Association is a fear of an object or a situation that is excessive and irrational.

Many people that have a phobia feel like they are going to be harmed if faced with their fear.

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Symptoms of a Phobia

While experiences fear from time to time a phobia is fear to the extreme. If a person is faced with this object or a specific situation, they will fear it.

They can also have a feeling of fear for just thinking about this situation or object. When a person is faced with their object, they may experience some physical symptoms as well.

They include a feeling of being dizzy or trembling. People may notice that their heart rate increases as well. Many people lose their breath. A feeling of nausea is common when faced with a phobia.

A person may lose touch with reality for a brief period of time. They may have an intense fear of dying and it can affect normal functioning in life. A person may have a preoccupation with the object that they have a phobia of.

They may not be able to think about anything else but this fear. There have been people that have such a phobia that it may lead to a full anxiety attack.

People that have extreme phobias may have trouble with daily functioning and may have trouble leading an ordinary life. A person may try to isolate themselves and avoid leaving their home due to this fear.

They may not be able to perform daily life functions and may have trouble with relationships with others. A person may look for medical treatment to help with the illness they think they have but really do not.

They may also need to get medication help if they feel like they are facing impending death.

Possible Causes

There are some things that can lead to phobias. If a person almost drowns as a child, they may be afraid of water. This is due to a distressing event. A person may be exposed to something that they find terrifying and they may develop a fear of this.

People with a history of medical conditions or other health issues often have phobias on top of this. Studies have found that people with traumatic brain injuries often develop phobias. People with substance abuse issues and those that suffer from depression often have phobias as well.

People with schizophrenia often have phobias. They suffer from delusions and hallucinations and they may not be able to realize that the item terrifying them is not real. They are not able to separate this from reality due to their mental health condition and issues.

Types of Phobias

According to the American Psychiatric Association, there are several different types of phobias.

Social Phobias

People with social phobias have a fear of social situations and being around other people. They may have an extreme fear of public speaking.

This one is rather common. People have stated that they would rather die than have to speak in public. Others may have a fear of interacting with others and being embarrassed.


This phobia is the fear of being trapped in a specific area or a place that a person will not be able to escape from. Many people will avoid these situations. Some people can get so afraid that they do not want to leave their homes.

Specific Phobias

This is a fear of a specific thing. People can be afraid of certain situations. Other may be afraid of animals, insects, and reptiles. Snakes and spiders are common fears.

There are medical phobias that people have such as a fear of needles. There are environmental phobias such as a fear of heights and even a fear of flying.

Preventing a Phobia

While being afraid of something is common there are people that allow it to interfere with their lives. Around 9 percent of adults in the United States have a phobia according to the National Institute for Mental Health.

Women are more likely to suffer from a phobia than a man. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders stated that around 10 percent of people will suffer from this phobia for their entire life.

Treatment for Phobias

There are some ways to treat a phobia to allow a person to be able to carry on with life. There are different treatments based on the situation of an object that a person fear.

Exposure Treatment

This treatment will expose a person to the object that they fear in a specified manner. The goal of this is to help a person overcome their fear. They may need to be exposed to this object for a specific period of time.

The goal of this treatment is to help them overcome the fear and learn that the object that they are afraid of is not going to cause harm to them.


A person needs to visit a specific treatment center and they will learn to have a new response to the thing that they are afraid of. When they panic or freeze, they will need to use relaxation techniques to reduce the feelings of fear or anxiety that they are feeling.

The new behavior is the opposite on panicking and over time the fear will go away. This treatment can be used by people that are not successful or are not willing to try exposure treatment.


People with some social phobias may need medical interventions. They may be prescribed an antidepressant or benzodiazepine help the body relax. While they are taking medication, they are going to be undergoing behavior therapy as well.

While phobias a rather common a person should not have to live their life in fear. There are treatments that can help a person learn how to live with their fears and in some cases overcome them.

This will allow a person to live a productive life and not allow their phobia to take over. Do you want to know what your phobia is? checkout our comprehensive list of phobias.

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