Phobias

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Phobia facts

  • The definition of a phobia is the unrelenting fear of a situation, activity, or thing that causes one to want to avoid it.
  • The three classes of phobias are social phobia (fear of public speaking, meeting new people or other social situations), agoraphobia (fear of being outside), and specific phobias (fear of other items or situations).
  • Although phobias are largely underreported, the number of people who suffer from phobias is estimated at more than 6 million people in the United States.
  • The average age that phobias begin is about 10 years of age.
  • Women tend to be twice as likely to suffer from a phobia compared to men.
  • While there are nearly as many phobias as there are situations, the most common kinds of phobias include social phobia, agoraphobia, claustrophobia, coulrophobia, aerophobia, zoophobia, arachnophobia, dentophobia, aichmophobia, ophidiophobia, acrophobia, mysophobia, and a fear of blood.
  • Agoraphobia often coexists with panic disorder.
  • If left untreated, a phobia may worsen to the point where the person's life is seriously affected by the phobia and by attempts to avoid or conceal it, leading to problems with personal health, friends and family, failures in school, and/or lost jobs while struggling to cope.
  • Phobias tend to run in families, can be influenced by culture and parenting style, and can be triggered by life events.
  • Phobia sufferers have been found to be more likely to manage stress by avoiding the stressful situation and by having difficulty minimizing the intensity of the fearful situation.
  • Symptoms of phobias often involve panic attacks.
  • Assessment of phobias often includes questions by a trained professional that explore the symptoms being experienced, a medical interview, and a physical examination.
  • Phobias are often treated using desensitization, cognitive behavioral therapy, and/or medications.
  • The groups of medications doctors tend to choose from when treating a phobia include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, beta blockers, and occasionally, benzodiazepines.
  • Phobia sufferers sometimes cope with their fears by talking about it, refraining from avoiding situations they find stressful, visualization, and making positive self-statements.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/12/2012

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Phobias - Cause Question: What was the cause of your phobia?
Phobias - Symptoms Question: What were the symptoms of your phobia(s)?
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Phobias - Types Question: Describe your phobia, how it makes you feel, and if you've received treatment for it.
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What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Social Phobia?

People with social phobia tend to:

  • Be very anxious about being with other people and have a hard time talking to them, even though they wish they could
  • Be very self-conscious in front of other people and feel embarrassed
  • Be very afraid that other people will judge them
  • Worry for days or weeks before an event where other people will be
  • Stay away from places where there are other people
  • Have a hard time making friends and keeping friends
  • Blush, sweat, or tremble around other people
  • Feel nauseous or sick to their stomach when with other people.

SOURCE:

National Institute of Mental Health