A phobia is a persistent, excessive, unrealistic fear of an object, person, animal, activity,, or situation. It is a type of anxiety disorder, and oftentimes these genuine fears and anxieties can prohibit those living with them from a higher quality of life. The fear a phobia causes for individuals can cause extreme aversion from the source of the fear and can even result in panic and anxiety attacks when confronted with facing the source of the phobia. It is estimated that over 10% of the population suffers from common phobias every year in the United States alone. For those living with a phobia, whether their fears impact their lives from a place of mere annoyance, or their phobia leads to a disabling crippling fear, phobias can make a person’s quality of life harder and more challenging.

What is a Phobia?

Classified as a mental disorder, phobias impact their sufferers with extreme and disabling anxiety. Phobias are considered one of the most common mental disorders, and this disorder is more prevalent in women than men. Often when faced with the source of their fear, someone who has a phobia is faced with irrational and unrelenting fear. This fear can impact their daily lives, making it impossible for them to function in their normal capacity at school, work, or home, and can even impact personal relationships. 

Phobias most commonly present in adolescence when a person is between the ages of 15 and 20. Researchers and medical professionals agree that while the exact reason common phobias may present, both genetic and environmental factors are at play when an individual is diagnosed with a phobia. 

While the irrational fear of a variety of things can affect phobia patients, common phobias are categorized by the following:

Specific Phobias – Fears of Situations or Things

Specific phobias are categorized as the specific, irrational fear of an object or situation. Individuals with a specific phobia understand that their fear is irrational but cannot overcome their fear and aversion for these objects or situations. A small list of examples of common specific phobias include:

WARNING – If you have a phobia, please do not watch the following video!

Top 10 Common Phobias from WatchMojo

Social Phobia – Fears Involving Social Pressures or Situations

Common social phobias impact individuals faced with situations that may seem low stress or exposure to neurotypical people. Fears like being embarrassed, being reprimanded, meeting new people, confrontation with authority figures, and even using the public restroom can be debilitating to individuals suffering from this form of phobia. 

In some cases, social phobias are pushed aside and labeled as slight social anxiety or shyness. Medical professionals advise that if you or someone you love has an extreme fear of social situations, it’s best to consider seeking medical help. Through a variety of therapies and, in some cases, prescribed medication, social phobias can typically be managed to improve a patient’s quality of life.

Agoraphobia – The Fear of Being Unable to Escape a Place or Situation

Unlike the other 2 more common categories of phobias, agoraphobia is the fear of being exposed to places or situations that an individual may not be able to remove themselves from safely. When an individual is faced with the potential or possibility of being exposed to a fear-inducing event or place, the anxiety this fear induces can prohibit them from attending or confronting that fear. 

Anxiety may increase at the realization or consideration that when exposed to a particular situation, the individual may not be able to escape or remove themselves from it. Patients living with agoraphobia tend to avoid social events, big crowds, and public places. 

What is agoraphobia

Anxiety and panic attacks are common symptoms for people living with this type of phobia. At times, the mere thought of being confronted with fear-inducing situations can trigger these symptoms. In many cases, agoraphobia worsens after individuals experience their first panic attack or first series of attacks. Suffering a panic attack can trigger the fear of another single or series of these attacks. It can deter the sufferer from exposing themselves to the same situation or event a second time. 

Finding Treatment for Common Phobias

Most individuals who have a phobia are very aware of their condition, and in most cases, these phobias are highly treatable. Some people may choose to avoid triggers and the source of their fears altogether, but in extreme cases, this may not be the healthiest or most effective form of treatment. 

There is no single, perfect treatment for any individual living with a phobia. For some, seeking out mental health care and therapies is what best helps them overcome their fears. For others, a combination of prescription medications and psychotherapy is the most effective treatment method. 

It is not uncommon for people living with a phobia to be diagnosed with depression and other comorbid disorders. The treatment of these comorbid disorders in conjunction with phobia treatments may also help alleviate some of the symptoms.

Antidepressants, beta-blockers, and in some cases, even tranquilizers are methods of treatment that have worked for many individuals. Behavioral therapies are another fairly typical form of treatment to help sufferers reclaim their lives and move forward without the anxiety that their fears inflict on them.

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