What is a phobia?

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First we have to define what exactly a phobia is, you might have heard about this affliction many times before, but do you really know what it is and which are its symptoms? In this article we’ll talk about its definition, its main characteristics and some of the strangest phobias you could imagine.

Let’s begin with the definition, a phobia is an anxiety disorder which consists of an irrational fear reaction to an object or situation. This condition arise from a combination of traumatic events and genetics. The phobia comes with a dreadful and deep fear when facing the cause.

People with a type of phobia can be aware that the fear they feel is irrational but even if they want to do something about it, they find they’re unable to control it. People can experience it in different levels, it may be symptoms of discomfort and in severe cases it may disable the person to fulfill a certain activity.

The cause can be originated from a distressing event like a negative experience with an object or place, or the bite of an insect or animal and even a near-death experience. It is known that people with a close relative with an anxiety disorder have a higher percentage to develop a phobia. Also patients with brain injuries or have abused of substances or with depression.

There are many symptoms but the most common are: dizziness, shaking, dry mouth, upset stomach, racing heart, chest pain, sweating and even nausea. Some studies revealed that age, socioeconomic status and gender could be risk factors for certain phobias.  According to Healthline.com, women are more likely to have phobia to animals, children and people with a low socioeconomic status to social phobias and men to dentist and doctor phobias.

On the bright side, there are diverse treatments and therapy to overcome a phobia or to control them to a minimum level. In some cases, doctors recommend the use of medication, like antidepressants and anti-anxiety to help calming the adverse reactions to the phobia. Generally, the medication is accompanied by therapy like the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy which focuses on identifying and changing negative conduct like thoughts, beliefs and reactions towards the phobia.

It’s important to highlight that medicines don’t cure a phobia, it only helps to calm or suppress symptoms for a period of time. Psychotherapy, counseling, hypnotherapy and Neuro-Linguistic programming are some of the treatments recommended for this condition.

The most common phobias are: 

  • Arachnophobia: fear of spiders.
  • Claustrophobia: fear of enclosed or tight spaces.
  • Glossophobia: fear of speaking in front of an audience.
  • Hemophobia: fear of blood or injury.
  • Nyctophobia: fear of the dark.
  • Acrophobia: fear of heights.
  • Thanatophobia: fear of death.

On the other hand, there are phobias we would consider really strange or peculiar and yet people suffer the consequences of them. Here are some examples of the weirdest phobias:

  • Bibliophobia: fear of books.
  • Omphalophobia: fear of belly buttons.
  • Euphobia: fear of good news.
  • Xanothophobia: fear of the color yellow.
  • Turophobia: fear of cheese.
  • Anatidaephobia: fear of being watched by a duck.

And there are some that you might have and didn’t know. If you have heard too many broken hearted stories and avoid going on a date you could have philophobia which is the fear of falling in love. Maybe it’s quite the opposite and you’re afraid of being single, that means you have anuptaphobia. And maybe we all have a bit of ergophobia on Sunday night because is the fear of work.

It’s hard to overcome ones fear but luckily we can get help to get through it and not allow it to disturb our lives.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

–Nelson Mandela

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