Top 8 Phobias People Have

Jul 9, 2022

Are you one of those people who get a chill in the spine when they suddenly hear a loud noise? Or are you terrified of the colour blue or red or yellow? 

Don’t worry, you are not alone.

Phobias are a common psychiatric illness among people around the world. These might occur during childhood or teenage years and continue into the later stages of life.

But how do phobias happen? How can one detect and cure them?

To know the answers, you need to first understand what a phobia is. So let us begin from the basics and then dive deeper into the subject.

What Is A Phobia?

A type of anxiety disorder, a phobia is a persistent and unrealistic fear of an object, animal, person, activity or situation.

People with phobias experience a deep sense of dread or panic when they encounter the sources of their fear. Since phobias make people uncomfortable and cause distress, they tend to interfere with people’s social and personal lives, relationships and careers.

● Types Of Phobia

According to the American Psychiatric Association, there are three types of phobias- 

Social Phobia: Social phobia or social anxiety is the intense fear of public humiliation, being left out, or being judged by people in social situations. People dealing with this phobia often avoid all social interactions or become overly concerned about their actions and behavior around others with a fear of offending someone.

Agoraphobia: Agoraphobia encompasses panic-causing inescapable situations like being stuck in a lift or locked outside the home without any help. People dealing with agoraphobia tend to stay at home for a long time and have an increased risk of panic disorder.

Specific phobias: These phobias cause persistent and exaggerated fear of a situation or an object, like fear of bathing(ablutophobia) or fear of death(thanatophobia). People with specific phobias feel doomed, dizzy, and nauseous, and they come up with tactics to avoid their triggers.

● Causes Of Phobia

Phobias can be caused by the following factors:

  • Genetics - phobias that run in families.
  • Cultural factors - phobias that occur only in certain cultural groups.
  • Behavioural factors - phobias based on real-life events
  • Environmental factors - phobia caused by a traumatic experience or major life-changing event.

How is Phobia Different From Fear?

Phobia and fear are quite confusing terms, often used interchangeably. But phobias and fears are different from each other. 

While fear is a natural emotion that protects people from harm when they face danger, a phobia is an excessive fear linked to a specific object, animal, human or situation which causes discomfort and stress.

Fear can be managed rationally with mild responses. However, a phobia twists the normal fear response into extreme and severe reactions making it difficult to control.

8 Most Common Phobias People Have

1. Acrophobia

Acrophobia describes an intense fear of heights. People with this phobia usually feel discomfort at high places, especially when they look down from the top floor. Such places make them feel dizzy or nervous and sometimes cause panic and stress.

For some people, even thinking about crossing a bridge or seeing a picture of high places like mountains may trigger fear and anxiety. They tend to avoid going to high places like towers, bridges, mountains and buildings.

Some of the other physical and psychological symptoms include-

  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Increased sweating
  • Fear of being trapped
  • Excess fear of encountering heights

2. Claustrophobia

One of the most common fears, Claustrophobia is the fear of enclosed spaces. It is a situational phobia that is usually triggered by an intense fear of crowded or tight spaces like being stuck in a crowded elevator or a windowless room. Some other places that can trigger claustrophobia could be revolving doors, tunnels, car washes, public restrooms etc.

People experiencing this phobia tend to avoid triggering situations, they feel scared of being locked in a room, and they compulsively look for exits in every space they enter and stand next to the gate. 

Some of the symptoms of claustrophobia include-

  • Panic attack
  • Hot flashes
  • Anxiety
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Feeling faint or lightheaded

3. Entomophobia

No one likes creepy crawlies, but there are some people who get severely triggered by merely seeing the insects. This extreme fear of insects is called entomophobia. It is one of the kinds of specific phobias that focuses on a particular object- insects. This phobia interferes with the daily activities of people and causes physical and psychological impacts on them.

Some of the symptoms of entomophobia include-

  • Anxiety that worsens when the insect comes closer
  • Inability to control the fear, even in front of a small insect
  • Hyperventilation
  • Panic attacks
  • Crying, especially in small children

4. Zoophobia

Zoophobia is an umbrella term for the fear of certain animals. It is one of the many types of specific phobias that evoke terror and panic when a person encounters certain animals. People dealing with zoophobia feel fear while talking, thinking or even listening about animals.

Some of the phobias associated with animals are -

  • Ailurophobia- fear of cats
  • Arachnophobia- fear of spiders
  • Cynophobia- fear of dogs
  • Entomophobia- fear of insects
  • Herpetophobia- fear of reptiles
  • Ophidiophobia- fear of snakes
  • Ornithophobia- fear of birds

5. Phasmophobia

Another most common phobia, Phasmophobia is an intense fear of ghosts and phantoms.

For people with Phasmophobia, even a mere mention of ghosts, witches and other supernatural things evoke an irrational fear causing dread and panic.

Imagined scenarios, overthinking or recollections can generate paranoia leading to severe anxiety or absolute terror.

People with this phobia sometimes begin to do rituals and activities to avoid or ward off ghosts.

Some of the symptoms of phasmophobia include -

  • Difficulty in sleeping
  • Intense anxiety
  • Intense dread of impending doom
  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Low productivity due to a disruptive sleep cycle

6. Phonophobia

Unexpected loud noises can be unpleasant and may frighten people. The fear of loud noises or Phonophobia can be overwhelming and may cause extreme panic. It is a specific phobia that is irrational and causes an immediate reaction. 

Some loud noises like alarms, car horns, firecrackers, sirens are common and can be tolerated. But people with phonophobia react intensely to these loud sounds and feel deep stress and anxiety.

Other symptoms of phonophobia include-

  • Fainting
  • Nausea or dizziness
  • Desire to flee
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Severe mood swings

7. Tonitrophobia

Tonitrophobia, an extreme fear of lightning and thunder affects people of all ages. Also goes by the name of astraphobia, brontophobia and keraunophobia, this phobia can create reasonable levels of anxiety among people as well as animals.

People dealing with this phobia may cancel their outdoor plans or relocate during a lightning storm. Sometimes they even start panicking before the storm and seek ways to escape the place. The symptoms can be triggered by a weather report, sudden sound, conversations or sights & sounds similar to lightning and thunder.

Some other symptoms of this phobia include:

  • Trembling
  • Racing pulse
  • Clinging to others for protection
  • Urge to hide away from the storm- in the closet, under the bed, or a closed room
  • Desire to monitor the storm
  • Children with autism and sensory processing disorders find it harder to control their emotions because of their heightened sensitivity to sound.

8. Chromophobia

Also known as chromatophobia or chrematophobia, chromophobia is a persistent and irrational fear of colours. As unreal and absurd it might sound, there are people around you who are averse to certain colours.

In such cases, colours elicit hormonal and psychological reactions that trigger people.

For example, some people are afraid of the shades of the colour red as the colour is symbolic of blood, violence and death.

In some cases, people are afraid of bright colours. For them, day to day life can become difficult as the sight of the colour can induce anxiety or panic. Other symptoms include- profuse sweating, nausea, dry mouth, trembling and shivering.

Some of the phobias associated with certain colours are-

  • Xanthophobia: fear of the colour yellow
  • Erythrophobia: fear of the colour red
  • Leukophobia: fear of the colour white
  • Melanophobia: fear of the colour black
  • Prasinophobia: fear of the colour green

Some Other Interesting and Rare Phobias People Have

Do you know that the longest word in the dictionary is the name of a phobia?

The word Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is the phobia associated with the fear of long words.

Another term for this phobia is Sesquipedalophobia.

Here’s a list of some of the other unbelievable phobias that people have:

  1. Anthophobia – Fear of flowers
  2. Aichmophobia – Fear of needles
  3. Phobophobia – Fear of phobias
  4. Bibliophobia – Fear of books
  5. Ommetaphobia – Fear of eyes
  6. Catoptrophobia – Fear of mirrors
  7. Osmophobia – Fear of smells
  8. Podophobia – Fear of feet
  9. Verbophobia – Fear of words
  10. Heliophobia – Fear of the sun
  11. Hydrophobia – Fear of water
  12. Octophobia – Fear of figure 8
  13. Onomatophobia – Fear of names
  14. Scolionophobia – Fear of School
  15. Papyrophobia – Fear of paper
  16. Amaxophobia – Fear of riding in a car

Treating Phobia

Some phobias don’t require any treatment. The triggers can be controlled by avoiding the objects. However, it is not possible to cure certain phobias easily. In such cases, people need to get proper professional help and advice.

Some of the main treatment techniques of phobias are:

  • Taking treatment
  • Self-help techniques- self-help books, online programmes, support groups or relaxation techniques.
  • Psychotherapy- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Exposure Therapy
  • Medication
  • Alternative Home remedies

The Takeaway—Final Words

Phobias can be intense and uncomfortable. They are challenging and often disrupt the normal lives of people. You shouldn’t be embarrassed about them and try to combat them by seeing a doctor(unless you have Latrophobia- phobia of doctors).

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