Phobias

We all feel fear at one time or another. Some of us may fear heights or a visit to the dentist, but what separates this fear from a phobia? Well, in simple terms it is the scale of the fear.

For instance it would be quite normal to experience a little fright when looking over the edge of a tall building, however, it would not be rational, logical, or useful to us, if we felt this fear amplified high into anxiety, or felt the fear even when we were not in the present situation. A phobia is present when the fear is disproportionate to the situation, this usually starts to impact upon a sufferer's life, for example by them avoiding situations they fear.

It is estimated that around 10million people in the UK alone suffer from some form of phobia, to a greater or lesser extent.

The most common phobias include:

  • Social phobia - (Complex) social situations/events/public speaking
  • Arachnophobia - Spiders
  • Acrophobia - Heights
  • Emetophobia - Vomiting/sickness
  • Agoraphobia - (Complex)  fear of situations where escape is difficult
  • Claustrophobia - Phobia of enclosed spaces
  • Nyctophobia - Phobia of the dark
  • Aerophobia - Flying

There are many more common phobias, indeed you can just about have a phobia of anything, triskaidekaphobia for example is the intense fear of the Number 13.

Phobias can be 'simple' (specific) - spiders, dentists, vomiting, or 'complex' - agoraphobia and social phobia. Our guides below go into more detail about these terms and their uses.

The great news is there is a world of help available out there to phobia sufferers. Whether you are beginning to feel the grip of a specific phobia, or have struggled for years with complex issues, there is help and hope. Phobias can be very successfully treated, this usually involves talking therapies, commonly CBT. Again, there is much more on phobia treatments in the guides below.

Related Guides

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The phobia of spiders - an in depth look at arachnophobia (no spider pictures)
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Quick facts about why spiders are not so scary!
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Here is a letter sent to us by the husband of a phobia sufferer. We thought it was such an honest account of his feelings that it might help others in the same situation.
A phobia is an irrational, persistent fear of things or situations.
Afraid of flying? Virgin Atlantic's fear of flying course director tells us why we shouldn't be
A reader's very honest real-life account of social phobia
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Readers question about aerophobia
Readers letter about flashbacks answered by our psychologist
Talking therapies widely used to help with mental illness
A guide to agoraphobia
A guide toemetophobia
A guide to mental illness
A guide to arachnophobia

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