Phobias are a type of anxiety disorder that is subdivided into different specific kinds. They could go beyond normal fears and sometimes they could be considered to develop in an individual an irrational fear of a specific object or situation. Phobias unfortunately can cause intense fear which in certain cases could lead to the disruption of a person’s life.
Phobias are divided into three main different groups, those include specific or simple phobia, social phobia, and agoraphobia.
- Specific phobias involve an intense or irrational fear that presents little or no danger to the individual. Even though the individual might agree that the fear could be irrational it can still cause the person severe anxiety only by thinking about that specific object or situation. Concerning specific phobias, there are different subgroups of phobias including fear of animals such as fear of cats (ailurophobia), fear of spiders (arachnophobia), fear of dogs (cynophobia), or fear of reptiles (herpetophobia). Additionally, there is the fear of certain types of environmental factors such as fear of snow (phonophobia), fear of heights (acrophobia), or fear of the dark (nyctophobia). Moreover, there exists the fear of a specific situation such as the fear of flying (aerophobia), the fear of dentists (dentophobia), or the fear of marriage or commitment (gamophobia). Furthermore, there are bodily phobias involving childbirth (lockiophobia), fear of vomit (emetophobia), or the fear of injections (trypanophobia). Finally, there exist different kinds of sexual phobias, those include the fear of intercourse (coitophobia), the fear of the opposite sex (heterophobia), or the fear of nudity (gymnophobia).
- Social phobia, another kind of phobia or social anxiety disorder, is characterized by having an intense fear of social situations or the fear of scrutiny by others. The types of social phobias include public speaking (glossophobia), meeting new people, or participating in social events. In severe cases, social phobias can prevent a person from eating in public places, meeting friends, or carrying out everyday activities.
- Agoraphobia, a type of complex phobia just like social phobia is characterized by having an intense fear of being in a situation from which one cannot escape or help in any circumstance would not be available. Individuals experiencing agoraphobia might be afraid of traveling on public transportation, visiting a mall, or even leaving home.
Symptoms of phobia involve feeling dizzy during the moment the object or the situation is present, nausea, sweating, shortness of breath, shaking, or palpitations. Concerning the causes, there does not seem to be a single cause involved in the development of a phobia, but rather several factors are thought to be involved, those include past incidents involving a traumatic event, a learned response in early life from a relative, experiencing long term stress which can be involved in the worsening of anxiety symptoms or genetic predispositions. If you or a relative are experiencing any kind of phobia and would like to obtain professional aid do not hesitate to contact your general practitioner or a mental health professional to obtain more information.
By Marta Padron Pena, Mental Health Intern