A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder that describes an excessive and irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation. Phobias involve intense fear surrounding an object or situation that realistically poses little or no real danger. They are different from common fears in that the associated anxiety is so strong it interferes with daily life and the ability to function normally. People suffering from phobias may go to extreme lengths to avoid encountering or experiencing the feared object or situation.
Though many people with phobias realize that their worry is unrealistic or unwarranted, feelings of fear and anxiety persist and seem unmanageable, leaving sufferers feeling out of control.
- Examples: Fear of heights, snakes, spiders
- Social Phobia: A fear of being humiliated or underperforming in social situations. Also known as social anxiety disorder.
- Examples: Fear of public speaking, public restrooms, eating in front of others
- Agoraphobia: Feeling discomfort in situations where escape is difficult or help is not readily available.
A few of the most common specific phobias include:
- Ophidiophobia: fear of snakes
- Acrophobia: fear of heights
- Astraphobia: fear of thunder and/or lightning
- Trypophobia: fear of holes
- Aerophobia: fear of flying
- Xenophobia: fear of the unknown or unfamiliar (such as foreigners)
- Claustrophobia: fear of small spaces
- Emetophobia: fear of vomiting
- Rapid heart rate
- Difficulty breathing
- Trembling, shaking
- Abdominal discomfort
- Tightening of the chest and feelings of choking
- Nausea and dizziness
- Hot or cold flashes
- An overwhelming desire to escape
Causes of phobias
Most phobias develop in childhood and are commonly passed down by a family member. However, the main cause of phobias is still unknown. Frequent causes of phobias include:
- Traumatic experience involving object of fear
- Witnessing someone else being harmed by specific activity or object
- Hearing a tragic story involving a specific activity or object
Having phobias and fears is common, and often rational. However, if these fears begin to interfere with daily life, consult with a doctor. For example, a phobia of driving on the freeway should not be so strong that it keeps a person from driving to work or school.
Thankfully, phobias are highly treatable, and treatments are usually very effective. Many who receive therapy for phobias see significant results in as little as 1-4 treatment sessions.
Some utilize self-help strategies for dealing with and treating phobias, which may be effective for certain individuals. However, if the phobias in question are severe, especially if they're severe to the point of causing panic attacks, you may want to find professional help for treating your phobia. Those with a clinically diagnosed phobia might consider seeking professional treatment using one of the following treatment methods:
- 认知行为治疗（CBT）: a form of psychotherapeutic treatment that focuses on exploring the patterns of thinking that lead to inappropriate responses in an individual.
- Exposure Therapy：一种心理治疗的一种形式，使患者以逐步，系统的，安全的方式暴露于恐惧。暴露治疗使用灭绝学会教导个人，因为他们所恐惧的对象或情况并不真正导致预期的负面反应，导致恐惧对象面临的痛苦下降。