Phobias

  • Medical Author:
    Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD

    Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

View the Phobias Slideshow Pictures

Quick GuidePhobias Picture Slideshow: What Are You Afraid Of?

Phobias Picture Slideshow: What Are You Afraid Of?

What is a phobia? What are the different kinds of phobias?

A phobia is defined as the persistent fear of a situation, activity, or thing that causes the sufferer to want to avoid it. The three types 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 particular items or situations).

Phobias are largely underreported, probably because many people with phobias find ways to avoid the situations that they fear. Therefore, statistics for how many people have phobias vary widely. Phobias are fairly common. Women are thought to be twice as likely to develop a phobia than men.

Some of the most common phobias include fears of public speaking or other social situations (social phobia or social anxiety disorder), open spaces (agoraphobia), closed-in spaces (claustrophobia), the dark, clowns (coulrophobia), flying (aerophobia), blood, birds (ornithophobia) or all animals (zoophobia), commitment (gamophobia), driving (vehophobia), snow (chionophobia), spiders (arachnophobia) and bugs, needles (aichmophobia), snakes (ophidiophobia), death, math, heights (acrophobia or altophobia), bridges or tunnels, germs (mysophobia), and having dental work done (dentophobia). Fears of midgets, haunted houses, long words, helmets, pickles, feet, and phobias of holes are just a few unusual fears/phobias and may be considered weird or strange by some but can be just as debilitating as those phobias that are more common. Agoraphobia often coexists with panic disorder.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/15/2016

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