Science

5 Most Common Types of Phobias

We are all scared of something, none of us here can be deemed brave as such. We all have weak spots, for some it’s bearable and for others it could actually be an anxiety disorder called a ‘phobia.’ It is an excessive and irrational fear reaction. A person experiencing a phobia, goes through distress, panic attacks due to the fear of an object or situation. Distressing events, traumatic experiences at a very young age, genetic and environmental factors are all some reasons for developing phobias. It can be handled by counselling, medication, and therapies like exposure therapy. Here I have listed some usual types of phobias.

Arachnophobia:  Extreme or irrational fear of spiders. 

Even mention by word or depiction of spiders could affect them. People with this fear tend to avoid places like garages, attics, gardens or places where there is possibility of running into spiders. They constantly tend to worry about ill effects a spider could cause on them, and are usually very alert to signs. 

Arachnophobia is treatable, studies show that 90% of people show clinical improvements in spider related anxiety.

Acrophobia: Intense fear of heights.

For some people extreme heights triggers this fear, while in others any kind of height including small stools can be the trigger. Causes can be experiencing a traumatizing experience involving heights, like falling from a high spot, or watching someone fall, or something negative in general. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help if you think you are not ready enough to try exposure therapy. Here, a therapist will talk the negative thoughts about heights out of your mind. 

It is one of the most common phobias, a therapist could easily help a person in need to get better.

Astraphobia: Extreme fear of thunder and lightning.

Although it is more common in children than in adults, it can affect people irrespective of age. It is also seen in animals. The symptoms can be triggered by a weather report, sudden sound of thunder. Sights and sounds that are similar to thunder and lightning may also be indirect triggers.

Mysophobia: Extreme or irrational fear of dirt or contamination. 

This phobia is closely associated with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). This is also an obsessive fear of any kind of contamination by illness, dirt, body fluids, or bacteria. We all fear germs, and that is the very reason our world is shut down at the moment. But this can’t be construed as mysophobia. A person with this phobia is scared about this to a point where their activities become unreasonable. Obsessed hand washing, overuse of sanitizing products, refusing to meet people in fear of germ contamination, dissatisfaction even after cleaning multiple times are some symptoms. Psychotherapy, exposure therapy and anti-anxiety medication can help treat OCD. 

Social Phobia: Health condition in which social interactions cause irrational anxiety. 

People of all genders, age groups can be affected. People with this phobia are not simply shy, introverted people, they find it difficult to even get away with everyday social interactions. They constantly feel the fear of being judged, worry of embarrassment or humiliation, concern about offending someone. It is the underlying fear of scrutiny by people in social situations. Talk therapy, CBT, group therapy and  anti depressants can help increasing confidence and enhance ability for better interaction with people.

The physical symptoms of suffering from a phobia are almost similar in all cases, even though the cause that induces it is different, the effect it creates on the body and mind is as of intense fear.  Some common symptoms are all-over body shaking, trouble breathing, sweaty palms, numbness, heart palpitations, racing pulse, nausea, need for protection, helplessness, sweating profusely. Yes, the symptoms are as of panic attacks. Now if you had noticed, exposure therapy is the most common therapy in most phobias. It is a type of behaviour therapy to treat anxiety disorders, it involves exposing the target patient to the source that causes the anxiety without the intention to cause danger. This helps the patient realise that their fears are unnecessary and confront it. 

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