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Phobias

Updated: Oct 30, 2020

"A touch of magic, a pinch of fright, cast a spell this festive night."-Rusty Fischer


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Living with a phobia can be challenging. Even if the feared object or situation does not regularly appear in your daily life, you may find that a lot of your time is spent worrying that it may appear or figuring out how to avoid it. In fact, by definition, a phobia is something that interferes with your life.

Let's talk about the different kinds of phobias, their physical and psychological effects.


Phobias are one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States. The National Institute of Mental Health suggests that 8% of U.S. adults have some type of phobia. Women are more likely to experience phobias than men. Typical symptoms of phobias can include nausea, trembling, rapid heartbeat, feelings of unreality, and being preoccupied with the fear object.


The American Psychiatric Association (APA) identifies three different categories of phobias: social phobias, agoraphobia, and specific phobias. When people talk about having a phobia of a specific object such as snakes, spiders, or needles, they are referring to a specific phobia.




Phobias often have a far-reaching effect, causing difficulties in many areas of life. You may wonder if what you are feeling is normal. Phobias can impact your life emotionally in several ways.

  • Phobias can cause severe anxiety and the emotional and physical responses that accompany anxiety.​

  • Phobias can be isolating. Some phobias (especially agoraphobia) can lead you to avoid social situations. Not only have you left alone, but you then have time to wonder why you can't be like everyone else.

  • Phobias can be embarrassing. You may be embarrassed by reactions of friends to your phobia ("You're afraid of what?") and by the decisions you may make due to your phobia (when you decline an all-expenses-paid trip to a beautiful resort destination because you are afraid to fly).

  • Phobias can leave you feeling helpless. Just as others wonder why you can't simply not be afraid, you may feel at a loss for being unable to control your phobia. This feeling of helplessness can also leave you feeling much less control over your whole life.



A specific phobia is, by nature, triggered by a specific object, place, or, situation. Unlike generalized anxiety disorder, people with a specific phobia are not consumed by pervasive worry and fear. However, a phobia can have a very real impact on a person's daily functioning and quality of life.




Common Emotional Effects of Phobias

Here are five examples of the emotional effects some people experience as a result of their phobia.


Life-Limiting and Severe Anxiety

One of the main criteria for diagnosing a phobia is that it is life-limiting in nature.


 Depending on what your phobia is, you might find it a real struggle to run errands, go out with friends, or even make it to work every day. In other words, a specific phobia can significantly impair your education, your career, and your overall quality of life. 


Phobias foster:


Isolation

Limitations associated with phobias can make you experience social isolation. You may wonder why you are not like everybody else. This can affect your relationships with family and friends, which could contribute to you becoming reclusive and depressed.


Embarrassment

Phobias can create awkward and embarrassing situations. For example, how do you explain to your best friend that you can never visit her home because she owns a dog? How do you turn down a trip to the Bahamas with a new love because you can’t bring yourself to get on a plane?


Social phobia, now known as social anxiety disorder (SAD), can be especially difficult to manage because the underlying fear is of humiliation. Having a phobic reaction can make you feel embarrassed, which often only reinforces the persistent fear.


Feeling Out of Control

Perhaps one of the worst emotional components of a phobia is the out-of-control feeling. You may understand that your phobia is irrational and/or excessive, but no matter how hard you try, you cannot get it under control.


You are not alone if you spend time thinking about what your life would be like if you could simply live daily without the dread of coming into contact with that specific object or situation. 


Helplessness

Helplessness may appear when you realize that your phobia has affected several or even all aspects of your life, like your job, social life, and general happiness. You may feel that there is nothing you can do to heal. You may assume that you will always have your phobia. You may wish things were different, but feel that they never will be.


Different types of phobias

Many are amazed at how many phobias exist out there from the common to the freaky..

  • Achluophobia - Fear of darkness

  • Acrophobia - Fear of heights

  • Aerophobia - Fear of flying

  • Algophobia - Fear of pain

  • Aphenphosmphobia - Fear of being touched

  • Arachibutyrophobia - Fear of peanut butter

  • Arachnophobia - Fear of spide

  • Bacteriophobia - Fear of bacteria

  • Bathmophobia - Fear of stairs or steep slopes

  • Batrachophobia - Fear of amphibians

  • Belonephobia - Fear of pins and needles

  • Cacophobia - Fear of ugliness

  • Catagelophobia - Fear of being ridiculed

  • Catoptrophobia - Fear of mirrors

  • Chromophobia - Fear of colors

  • Chronomentrophobia - Fear of clocks

  • Chronophobia - Fear of Time

  • Claustrophobia - Fear of confined spaces

  • Cyberphobia - Fear of computers

  • Cynophobia - Fear of dogs

  • Dendrophobia - Fear of trees

  • Dentophobia - Fear of dentists

  • Domatophobia - Fear of houses

  • Dystychiphobia - Fear of accidents

  • Ecophobia - Fear of the home

  • Elurophobia - Fear of cats

  • Entomophobia - Fear of insects

  • Ephebiphobia - Fear of teenagers

  • Equinophobia - Fear of horses

  • Gamophobia - Fear of marriage

  • Genuphobia - Fear of knees

  • Glossophobia - Fear of speaking in public

  • Heliophobia - Fear of the sun

  • Hemophobia - Fear of blood

  • Herpetophobia - Fear of reptiles

  • Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia - Fear of long words

  • Hydrophobia - Fear of water

  • Hypochondria - Fear of illness

  • Koumpounophobia - Fear of buttons

  • Lockiophobia - Fear of childbirth

  • Megalophobia - Fear of large things

  • Melanophobia - Fear of the color black

  • Mysophobia - Fear of dirt and germs

  • Mageirocophobia - Fear of cooking

  • Noctiphobia - Fear of the night

  • Octophobia - Fear of the figure 8

  • Papyrophobia - Fear of paper

  • Pathophobia - Fear of disease

  • Pedophobia - Fear of children

  • Philematophobia - Fear of Kissing

  • Philophobia - Fear of love

  • Phobophobia - Fear of phobias

  • Podophobia - Fear of feet

  • Porphyrophobia - Fear of the color purple

  • Pteridophobia - Fear of ferns

  • Pteromerhanophobia - Fear of flying

  • Pyrophobia - Fear of fire

  • Samhainophobia - Fear of Halloween

  • Scolionophobia - Fear of school

  • Scoptophobia - Fear of being stared at

  • Selenophobia - Fear of the moon

  • Sociophobia - Fear of social evaluation

  • Somniphobia - Fear of sleep

  • Technophobia - Fear of technology

  • Tonitrophobia - Fear of thunder

  • Trypanophobia - Fear of needles/injections

  • Trypophobia - Fear of Holes

  • Venustraphobia - Fear of beautiful women

  • Verminophobia - Fear of germs

  • Wiccaphobia - Fear of witches and witchcraft

  • Xenophobia - Fear of strangers or foreigners

  • Zoophobia - Fear of animals

The good news is that if your phobia is causing any of these distressing thoughts or feelings, be reassured that you can get better with proper treatment. Like any mental disorder, it is easy for a phobia to have an impact far beyond its basic symptoms. Treating the phobia will eventually help to reduce negative feelings like shame and helplessness.


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