Anxiety, fear and phobias are all some of the mental health issues that Americans struggle with every year. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 9.1% of adults in the United States struggle with specific phobias. The top phobias among adults range from social anxiety to fear of heights.
According to Harvard Medical School, a phobia is a kind of anxiety disorder. Some phobias, like the fear of spiders, are very limited. Others, like the fear of people, are very general. Fears and phobias can disrupt a person’s peace of mind and quality of life.
Fear isn’t all bad. An entire segment of the entertainment industry is founded on the assumption that certain kinds of fear are enjoyable. Forbes annually reports record numbers for the sale of horror movies, but a voluntary scare and a debilitating phobia are two very different things. The top fears in America are not clowns or monsters in a forest, but genuine phobias that people suffer from on a daily basis.
A 2018 survey of Americans summarized the most common fears held by citizens of each state.
Did you know:
- In Texas, everything really is bigger. Texas citizens are afraid of everything (panophobia).
- The south may seem friendly, but they’re actually shy. Tennesseans and South Carolinians reported a fear of people.
- Maybe it started with the subway or maybe it’s the fault of ride-sharing, but residents of New York and New Jersey are afraid to drive (vehophobia).
- Next time you’re on a dating app, you should pay attention to where someone is from. People from Kansas have a fear of falling in love (philophobia) and people from Kentucky have a fear of commitment (gamophobia).
- Maybe life in big, open spaces really is best. People in Wyoming reported no biggest fear.
What’s Your State Most Afraid Of?
Ready to see what your state is the most afraid of? Here is a state-by-state phobia list that reports the biggest fears by state.
Anthropophobia: fear of people. Not everyone wants you to greet them in the street or supermarket. Some people shy away from social interaction because of genuine phobias.
Trypanophobia: fear of needles. Tattoo-free and proud of it! Residents of Alaska report a fear of needles.
Anthropophobia: fear of people. This fear is often confused with social anxiety disorder, but it is a more acute version and a legitimate phobia.
Astraphobia: fear of thunder and lightning. Arkansasians are not storm chasers!
Achievemephobia: fear of success. For one of the wealthiest states in America, residents of California are scared of the success they enjoy.
Entomophobia: fear of insects. They may enjoy outdoor sports, but Coloradans don’t enjoy sharing their sweeping spaces with bugs, flies and mosquitoes.
Astrophobia: fear of thunder and lightning. Astrophobics aren’t just scared of storms. This phobia extends into a fear of stars and outer space as well.
Trypanophobia: fear of needles. Delaware may have prominent medical and surgical facilities, but its residents are frightened of needles and other basic medical procedures.
Somniphobia: fear of sleep. Sharks? Alligators? No big deal, but Floridians are worried about all kinds of things that go bump in the night.
Acrophobia: fear of heights. Georgians don’t have to be high up for acrophobia to strike. This irrational fear persists whether someone is at a great height or not.
Arachnophobia: fear of spiders. The island life isn’t enjoyed when it’s accompanied by unwelcome, eight-legged friends.
Arachnophobia: fear of spiders. Arachnophobia is one of the more common phobias. It is characterized by a feeling of extreme aversion to all arachnids, including scorpions.
Autophobia: fear of being alone. Autophobia may also be called monophobia. People who suffer from it may feel dread or panic at the thought of being alone.
Thanatophobia: fear of death. Death and dying are heavy on the minds of Indianans. The fear of one’s own death is a persistent and difficult result of thanatophobia.
Arachnophobia: fear of spiders. Arachnophobia doesn’t just keep Iowans from cleaning out their garages or basements. This fear induces panic that can limit sports, hiking and other regular life activities.
Philophobia: fear of falling in love. Sometimes people who suffer from philophobia will have developed this specific phobia due to a relationship trauma in their history.
Gamophobia: fear of commitment. Your mom always told you not to fall for a commitment-phobe. People with gamophobia genuinely can’t help their irrational fear of long-term relational connections.
Anthropophobia: fear of people. Anthropophobia limits someone’s ability to go places, do things and maintain relationships. Anthropophobia may often be tied to other phobias, such as agoraphobia.
Arachnophobia: fear of spiders. The anticipation of interaction with spiders can result in physical distress that may include sweating, vomiting and panic attacks.
Anthropophobia: fear of people. People in Maryland are not up for a pop-in. Anthropophobia is a fear of all social interactions, especially spontaneous ones.
Thanatophobia: fear of death. Death anxiety is different from necrophobia (the fear of dead bodies). Thanatophobia is an anxiety-producing phobia about one’s own mortality.
Entomophobia: fear of insects. The land of lakes is full of mosquitoes, and the terror is real. Residents of Michigan report having an overwhelming fear of insects.
Anthropophobia: fear of people. Minnesotans may be nice, but they are also afraid of each other. The anticipation of interaction can be very challenging for people with this phobia.
Anthropophobia: fear of people. Anthropophobia can result in major physiological symptoms, such as sweating, difficulty breathing and a fight-or-flight response.
Gamophobia: fear of commitment. Gamophobia is often associated with a fear of marriage, but it can include any long-term relational commitment.
Acrophobia: fear of heights. Acrophobia is in a class of phobias that are triggered by motion and physical discomfort.
Anthropophobia: fear of people. This phobia produces high anxiety and can result in isolation or even substance use.
Gamophobia: fear of commitment. People who suffer from this phobia may have a past of negative relationships or might simply have an irrational fear of marriage.
Arachnophobia: fear of spiders. Arachnophobia is one of the most common types of animal phobia. The constant fear of encountering a spider can affect blood pressure and overall health.
Vehophobia: fear of driving. Maybe self-driving cars will be the solution. People with vehophobia have a debilitating fear of driving.
Nyctophobia: fear of the dark. Horror movies may be a bad option for people who have nyctophobia. Fear of the night or darkness can produce debilitating anxiety and even chronic insomnia.
Vehophobia: fear of driving. Vehophobia can stimulate panic and anxiety attacks. Some people with this phobia are also deeply afraid of riding in a vehicle.
Vehophobia: fear of driving. Some mental health professionals suggest that a traumatic incident can spark vehophobia.
No biggest fear. North Dakotans are doing alright. They report no biggest fear!
Vehophobia: fear of driving. People who suffer from vehophobia have extreme emotional and physical reactions to the anticipation of driving or even being in a vehicle.
Arachnophobia: fear of spiders. Some people develop a fear of spiders because of a bad encounter or bite. For others, the fear is merely irrational.
Arachnophobia: fear of spiders. Some arachnid phobias are so acute that people who suffer from this fear cannot enter a room without someone else first checking for spiders.
Anthropophobia: fear of people. People who suffer from this phobia are prevented from grabbing a cup of coffee with a friend or having a casual chat. Regular, social interaction can produce extreme anxiety.
Arachnophobia: fear of spiders. Some experts suggest that arachnophobia can arise from the experience of watching other people’s fear of spiders or from sources like television or movies.
Anthropophobia: fear of people. Even when South Carolinians are on home turf, they feel afraid. Anthropophobia doesn’t subside in familiar circumstances around familiar faces — it is a persistent and very acute phobia.
Trypanophobia: fear of needles. Injections, medical procedures and getting blood drawn are out of the question for people whose fear of needles is a legitimate phobia.
Anthropophobia: fear of people. The anticipation of face-to-face verbal interaction can produce physical manifestations of anxiety, including increased blood pressure and even panic attacks.
Panophobia: fear of everything. Panophobia, or omniphobia, is a consistent feeling of dread for an undefined encounter of experience.
Arachnophobia: fear of spiders. Extreme fear of spiders can make a person feel dizzy, shake or feel completely out of control.
Arachnophobia: fear of spiders. Some therapists use immersion therapy or other techniques to try to rid clients of arachnophobia.
Autophobia: fear of being alone. People with autophobia may not be relentlessly social but still, carry an incredible fear of being isolated or left out.
Arachnophobia: fear of spiders. Many people don’t like spiders, but in Washington, the fear is so overwhelming that people are not just disgusted — they are debilitated.
Acrophobia: fear of heights. Even the anticipation of a second-story dinner party may be debilitating for someone with acrophobia.
Anthropophobia: fear of people. Anthropophobia is not a fear of public speaking or even embarrassment. Average social situations can produce debilitating anxiety for people who suffer from this phobia.
No biggest fear. Life may be better out on the plains. Residents of Wyoming report no biggest fear.
Schmitz, Laura. “Yikes! America’s Top-Searched Phobias.” Your Local Security, March 27, 2018. Accessed June 25, 2019.
Harvard Health Publishing by Harvard Medical School. “Phobia: What Is It?” Published December 2018. Accessed June 18, 2019.
National Institute of Mental Health. “Specific Phobia.” Updated November 2017. Accessed June 18, 2019.
Thompson, Simon. “The 13 Highest Grossing R-Rated Horror Movies Of All Time.” Published October 2, 2018. Accessed June 18, 2019.