Fear is a common emotion that nearly everyone experiences from time to time. However, some people experience a much more persistent fear, known as a phobia. Phobias are often both excessive and uncontrollable. Overcoming a phobia is very difficult, and it can often impact everyday life. There are many kinds of phobias, but even people with the same fear may experience different severity. Some people find they are unable to leave the home due to their phobia, while others simply try to avoid the source of their fear.
People who suffer from claustrophobia often find it hard to be in small, confined spaces. This seems easy enough to avoid, but it’s actually very difficult. People with claustrophobia may need to avoid elevators or small rooms, and can even find being in a space with no windows to be very frightening. Other triggers include small cars, airplanes, and even tight, restrictive clothing. Encountering a trigger can lead to intense feelings of fear, as well as panic attacks that may require medical treatment. People with claustrophobia often do best in environments where there are few people in a large, open space.
No one enjoys going to the dentist, but for some people, dentophobia makes standard teeth cleaning seem impossible. Those who suffer from dentophobia aren’t just afraid of the pain of a root canal or filling. Instead, even the thought of a dentist appointment can send them into a panic attack. Over time, failing to overcome this fear of dental work can cause major health problems. Untreated dental problems can lead to a range of other symptoms, from bad breath to life-threatening infections. Many patients find that being sedated prior to the dental work being completed can help to ease the panic they feel about it.
Many people do not enjoy speaking in front of a large crowd, but glossophobia is much more severe. Glossophobia people may feel anxiety at the thought of having to speak even in a more intimate setting, such as during a department meeting at work. This may prevent them from working in careers that require public speaking, limiting their income potential and job opportunities. It may also make it impossible for them to navigate social situations, like giving a toast at a wedding or introducing a proposal at city council meetings. Unlike a dislike for public speaking, many people with glossophobia feel they are incapable of speaking in front of crowds.
Arachnophobia is one of the most common fears. People who have this phobia are afraid of spiders, and cannot function with a spider nearby. Most spiders, especially in urban and suburban areas of North America, are harmless, but that doesn’t stop people with arachnophobia from being terrified of these tiny creatures. Someone with arachnophobia will panic when they see a spider, and may even need help from someone else to kill or dispose of it in some way. In extreme cases, arachnophobia is so severe that the person will throw away whatever items the spider touched, even though the items are harmless.
People who suffer from agoraphobia are not likely to attend sporting events or concerts, visit shopping malls, or spend time in airports. This condition manifests as a fear of open spaces or large crowds, where escaping might be difficult. Just as someone with claustrophobia hates to be in a confined space, someone with agoraphobia views opens spaces as the real threat. This is especially true if the space is filled with people, making it difficult to plan an exit route in the event of danger. Extreme cases of agoraphobia can even make it impossible to do errands such as grocery shopping that requires venturing out into public spaces.
Gephyrophobia may be hard to pronounce, but it is another very common phobia. People with gephyrophobia are afraid of bridges and often go out of their way to avoid them. They may avoid mass transit routes that utilize bridges, for fear of being stuck on or under one of them with no escape. They may also re-route their own routes so that they don’t need to cross bridges at all. Most people who have gephyrophobia fear a bridge collapse, but some also fear driving off of the edge of the bridge. This may make travel very difficult, especially in areas where rivers or freeways make bridges more common.
Very few people enjoy seeing blood, and people with hemophobia are no exception. The difference, however, is that homophobic people often faint or become light-headed at the sight of blood. This response is triggered by a release of hormones, and it is often unavoidable. Some people with hemophobia claim that they can smell blood, and they claim that the smell is the part they fear more than the actual sight of it. The best way to deal with hemophobia is to simply avoid blood, but taking deep breaths can sometimes help to prevent loss of consciousness.
Birds can be terrifying for someone with ornithophobia, and not just birds of prey like hawks and eagles. Seeing the shadows of tiny sparrows or finches can send a person who suffers from ornithophobia running to escape, despite the relative lack of harm that these birds can do. Some research suggests that the fear of birds ties into self-preservation instincts leftover from the caveman era when birds were much more common predators. People with ornithophobia often describe a fear of wings, claws, or beaks, and even thinking about birds can make them cringe in fear. Being too close to a bird can bring on a panic attack and intense feelings of fear.
Aquaphobia, or fear of water, is one of the more varied types of phobia. It can range from a fear of large bodies of water, like oceans or deep lakes, to a fear of being wet. Most people with aquaphobia avoid water-based activities, like boating, fishing, or swimming, even if they know how to swim. In more severe cases, people with aquaphobia may feel anxious about bathing or taking showers, getting splashed with water, or being in the rain. This fear typically manifests in the form of anxiety attacks, including difficulty breathing and an inability to move. People with aquaphobia are typically afraid of drowning, even when there is no real threat of doing so.
Most people are at least somewhat intimidated by heights, but for people with acrophobia, even a small step up can be terrifying. Acrophobia is an irrational fear of heights, which explains why some people become fearful after just one or two steps on a ladder. One of the biggest dangers of acrophobia is that people will often try to overcome their fear, either due to peer pressure or personal desire, climbing up higher than they would normally be comfortable with. When they try to descend, the panic sets in and they become vulnerable to falls. It is important to only try to overcome acrophobia with the supervision of trained professionals to prevent this risk.
Those with pyrophobia have a fear of fire, whether it is controlled or accidental. They may frequently check their homes for fire hazards due to an intense fear of a house fire. While prevention is always good, pyrophobia can lead to obsessive behaviors. People with pyrophobia also avoid any kind of open flame, including fireplaces, candles, and matches. This fear can sometimes be prohibitive at social gatherings since many social events use an open flame of some kind. Being near the fire can produce panic attacks or other general symptoms of anxiety, including dizziness, nausea and shortness of breath.
Nomophobia revolves around modern society’s obsession with mobile phones. It is the fear of being without one’s mobile device, and if it sounds made up, that’s simply because it’s a very new type of phobia. Researchers have noted that people with nomophobia may feel anxious if they are unable to use their phones, and many would rather be late for work than spend a day without their mobile devices. Nomophobia sufferers may shower or sleep with their device, out of fear of missing out on a text or call, even if they are not expecting anyone to contact them. This is becoming a very prevalent phobia, making it important to discuss.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, cyberphobia is a fear of computers and digital technology. People who suffer from cyberphobia may be averse to experiencing new technology because they believe it is difficult or frightening to learn, especially in mild cases. However, severe cases of cyberphobia are often caused by the fear that technology is actually a means of surveillance or control. In both instances, being exposed to technology can cause fear and anxiety, but in severe cases, it can cause even more severe symptoms. Most people with cyberphobia go out of their way to avoid technology, even when it makes their tasks more difficult or time-consuming.
Cynophobia is a fear of dogs and often comes from a prior bad experience with dogs. Of course, cynophobia is still considered an irrational fear because it is unusual to be bitten by a dog, especially on multiple occasions. This is similar to ailurophobia, which is an irrational fear of cats. In both instances, those who suffer from these phobias are likely to assume an animal will be violent or dangerous, whereas someone who doesn’t have the phobia would assume the animal would be friendly. Sometimes, positive exposure to dogs can help to lessen the symptoms of cynophobia, but it can be a very stressful experience.
Many small children are afraid of the dark, but if it lasts into adulthood, it is considered nyctophobia. This fear isn’t so much a fear of darkness itself. It is a fear of the unknown dangers lurking in that darkness. Nyctophobia can cause extreme anxiety symptoms when the lights go off, including an accelerated heart rate, sweating, and nausea. For many people, nyctophobia can be combatted by sleeping with a nightlight. But others need to be in a brightly lit room in order to feel comfortable. Nyctophobia can interfere with a person’s ability to sleep and makes it difficult for them to cohabitate with someone who prefers to sleep in the dark.