A phobia, (from the Greek “fear”), is an abnormal, persistant fear of situations, objects, activities, of persons. The main symptom of this disorder is the excessive, unreasonable desire to avoid the feared subject. The term phobia is also used in a non-medical sense for aversions of all sorts and types of phobias and fears. A number of neologisms have appeared with the suffix-phobia, which are not phobias in the clinical sense, but rather describe a negative attitude towards something.
Types of phobias (in the clinical meaning of the term phobia or fear) are the most common form of anxiety disorder. An American study by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) found that between 5.1% and 21.5% of Americans suffer from types of phobias and fears. Broken down by age and gender, the study found that phobias were the most common mental illness among women in all age groups and the second most common illness among men older than 25.
Types of phobias and their meanings:
Achluophobia: Fear of darkness
Altophobia: Fear of heights
Arachnephobia: Fear of spiders
Atychiphobia: Fear of failure
Aviophobia: Fear of flying
Claustrophobia: Fear of confined spaces
Coulrophobia: Fear of clowns
Demophobia: Fear of crowds
Dishabiliophobia: Fear of undressing in front of someone
Gephyrophobia: Fear of crossing bridges
Glossophobia: Fear of speaking in public
Hemophobia: Fear of blood
Hoplophobia: Fear of firearms
Hypnophobia: Fear of sleep
Misophobia: Fear of being contaminated with dirt or germs.
Musophobia: Fear of mice
Necrophobia: Fear of death
Ombrophobia: Fear of rain
Ophidiophobia: Fear of snakes
Phasmophobia: Fear of ghosts
Prigophobia: Fear of choking or being smothered
Rupophobia: Fear of dirt
Selachophobia: Fear of sharks
Taphephobia: Fear of being buried alive or of cementaries
Tonitrophobia: Fear of thunder
Although phobias are common, they rarely cause considerable distress in a significant disruption of everyday activities. For example, if a person has a phobia of snakes then that person would probably want to live in a big city where chances of finding snakes are slim. However, if a person has a phobia about crowded spaces then that person would probably be best living in the country or even a small town.
Even though phobias are common a person should seek help if the phobia
*causes intense and disabling fear, anxiety and panic
* a person recognizes that their fear is excessive and unreasonable
* the person avoids certain situations and places because of their fears
* the avoidance interferes with their normal routines or causes significant distress
*the person has had the phobia for six months or longer
The most frequently used treatment for phobias is called exposure therapy. This treatment exposes a person to the object or situation that the person fears in a controlled and safe environment. The most common form of this therapy involves gradual encounters with the fear: both imaginary and then in real life. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) about 75% of people that take the exposure therapy overcome their phobias.