What is a Phobia?
Phobias are persistent and recurrent fears of a particular situation, object or activity that poses little or no danger. The person experiencing a phobia knows that the fear is irrational, but they cannot help it. Simple Phobias consist of a fear of one particular object or event, such as snakes, insects, heights, flying, etc. Agoraphobia is a fear of open spaces or crowds. Simple phobias manifest as feelings of panic or terror, in a manner that is uncontrollable and debilitating. Physical symptoms, including rapid heartbeat, lightheadedness, nausea, shortness of breath, and trembling occur. Ultimately, the person suffering from a phobia will take severe measures to avoid interacting with the object, activity or situation that causes the fear. Phobias often begin in childhood, with an average age of onset between 15 and 20 years of age.
What are the different types of phobias?
Simple phobias derive from an intense fear related to a specific object, activity, or situation, which then initiates anxiety. A person with a phobia is aware of their fear, but cannot control it; it is possible that the fear may lead to a panic attack. Specific phobias include fear of animals, reptiles, insects, (especially spiders, arachnophobia) heights, enclosed spaces (claustrophobia), bridges, air travel, or other objects or situations that cause them to feel uncomfortable and afraid.
Agoraphobia is the most severe of the specific phobias; it is a fear of open spaces, public places, and crowds. The person fears and avoids places for which there is no quick escape. It is also common for agoraphobics to fear being alone, so they usually stay at home with a friend or relative present. If they do leave the house, they usually need to be accompanied by a friend or family member. This phobia is most often associated with women, and usually arises during late teens or early twenties. Agoraphobia often begins with a panic attack while the person is away from the house, and the person then stays at home to avoid experiencing that situation again.