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Fear in a dangerous situation is normal. Phobias, however, go beyond normal fear and are irrational. The fear could be an animal, object, place or situation. Many times the source of the fear poses no actual threat or danger, but the person is overwhelmed by fear nonetheless.
People with specific phobias will do everything they can to avoid what is causing their fear, even when doing so greatly interferes with their daily lives. When faced with their phobia, they will experience intense anxiety, which is sometimes debilitating.
This article presents the 12 most common types of phobias as well as a list of all the phobias (that are currently recognized) that people may experience.
The following is a complete, alphabetical list of phobias from A to Z:
It is estimated that 9.1% of people in the United States have a specific type of phobia. Many times, the intensity of the phobia will vary greatly from person to person, but all forms of phobias can be treated. Most phobias can be treated with cognitive behavioral therapy, which encourages different ways of thinking in response to the fear, oftentimes incorporating exposure to the fear itself.
The following are some of the most common phobias prevalent among people in the United States:
Affects: 30.5% of the U.S. population
Arachnophobia is a fear of spiders that goes beyond the desire to kill one when you see it in your home. People with arachnophobia will become extremely anxious at the sight of a spider, usually jumping, screaming, or freezing in place. These reactions can sometimes be evoked by a mere picture of a spider.
People with arachnophobia will avoid places where spiders might be found at all costs. This often means not participating in outdoor activities, such as camping or hiking. They will refuse to come in close proximity to spiders, especially getting close enough to kill or remove them from their home. They will often require help from another person in order to do so.
This phobia is thought to develop from an innate fear of spiders that are venomous, which would result in negative effects, or death if bitten.
Affects: 22% of the U.S. population
Ophidiophobia is a fear of snakes. This can sometimes be confused with herpetophobia, which is a fear of reptiles in general, but people with ophidiophobia are specifically afraid of snakes. They will be startled at the sight of a snake, oftentimes jumping, screaming, or crying.
Similar to arachnophobia, people with ophidiophobia will avoid places where snakes may be found and avoid participating in outdoor activities such as camping or hiking. Unlike arachnophobia, the fear is less likely to be induced simply by looking at a picture of a snake.
Like arachnophobia, this phobia is thought to be an innate fear of being bitten by a venomous snake. It can also be derived from a traumatic experience with a snake, such as being startled by, hissed at, or even bitten by one.
Affects: 2-5% of the U.S. population
Acrophobia is a fear of heights. People with acrophobia will commonly have symptoms of spinning, also known as vertigo, in response to situations where they perceive they are high off the ground. In response to heights, they may also freeze in place and are unable to move from the spot.
In most cases, the feeling of anxiety is relieved when the person returns to ground level. People with acrophobia will often avoid situations involving heights. The severity of this phobia can vary greatly. In some people, the fear will be onset from standing at the top of a tall building, while in others it can be induced by scaling a ladder.
This phobia stems from the person losing confidence in their ability to stay balanced or fearing that they will fall. People with acrophobia tend to overestimate vertical distances, meaning that at certain heights, they perceive themselves as being higher off the ground than they really are.
Affects: 6.5% of the U.S. population
Aerophobia is a fear of flying. People with aerophobia become extremely anxious when flying. For some, it is brought on by simply entering a plane or even the thought of entering a plane, whereas others experience the phobia when there is turbulence during a flight.
People with aerophobia will avoid flying if they can. If it is absolutely necessary, some may endure it with great anguish, while others will simply choose not to go anywhere that would require them to fly to get there. People with aerophobia may become anxious and dreadful in the days leading up to a trip, to the point where it could interfere with their work or social life.
This phobia tends to stem from the fear that the airplane will crash. It can also be a combination of other phobias that culminate in the environment of an airplane, such as a fear of a confined space, heights, no escape or an outbreak of illness.
Affects: 13% of the U.S. population
Cynophobia is a fear of dogs. People with cynophobia will commonly freeze at the sight of a dog and have intense symptoms of anxiety.
People with cynophobia may avoid situations where they may encounter a dog, which can be difficult given their abundance as pets in society. They may find it difficult to interact with others who have dogs, including friends or family members. They may even avoid becoming friends with a dog owner.
This phobia usually arises from a negative experience with dogs, many times as a child. The person may have had an interaction with an aggressive dog at some point, or they may have witnessed a family member being bitten or chased by a dog. The fear can also develop indirectly, by observing a family member that has cynophobia.
Affects: 10% of the U.S. population
Astraphobia is the fear of lightning and thunder. People with astraphobia will experience extreme symptoms of anxiety during storms, which many times will be amplified if the person is alone.
People with astraphobia will likely be constantly up-to-date on the weather and will avoid leaving home if a storm is expected. During a storm, they will often find a safe place to hide, where the noise will be diminished. This fear can also be experienced by animals, such as dogs and cats.
The fear of thunder and lightning is thought to come from a traumatic experience related to a storm involving thunder or lightning.
Affects: 10% of the U.S. population
Trypanophobia is a fear of injections. It is also known as a fear of needles. People with trypanophobia will experience extreme anxiety in response to procedures requiring a needlestick, such as getting a shot or getting their blood drawn. The response can often occur at the site of a needle before the procedure is performed. They will often become very dizzy or even faint in response to the needlestick.
People with trypanophobia may avoid medical care due to their fear. In some cases, the symptoms of trypanophobia can also be induced by observing others undergoing injections.
The anxiety may also be linked to a fear of hospitals, doctors, and/or medical procedures in general, which tend to involve needles. It can also be the result of a traumatic experience with a prior procedure involving an injection.
Affects: 7.1% of the U.S. population
Social phobia, also known as social anxiety disorder, is a fear of social situations, usually involving people the person doesn’t know very well. Most people associate social phobia with being shy or introverted, but it is much more than that.
People with social anxiety are extremely afraid of social interactions, to the point that It is frequently debilitating and interferes with their life. People with social phobia will avoid social situations, sometimes refusing to leave their house.
It is usually brought on by a fear of judgment by others or feeling exceedingly self-conscious when out in public. They are afraid of being embarrassed or humiliating themselves in front of others.
Affects: 0.9% of the U.S. population
Agoraphobia is defined in many different ways, but in general, is known as a fear of a situation where escape may be difficult or where help will not be able to reach them in the case of an emergency. Other definitions include the fear of leaving home alone, fear of crowds, or fear of having a panic attack in public. People with agoraphobia tend to think of places outside of their home as unsafe.
People with agoraphobia usually experience flashes of severe fear, resembling a panic attack. They may avoid situations such as traveling on public transportation, visiting the mall, standing in crowded rooms, where exits may be limited, or even being in spaces that are wide open, where they may be too exposed. Their symptoms can sometimes be relieved if accompanied by another person.
This phobia may stem from a traumatic experience, such as a loved one being severely injured or dying in a traumatic situation. It can also be a fear of being a victim of a crime or an act of terrorism, exposure to illness, or being in an accident.
Affects: 13.2% of the U.S. population
Mysophobia is a fear of germs. A person with mysophobia might also be called a “germaphobe”. They may also be afraid of dirt or getting dirty, where germs might be present.
People with mysophobia may obsessively wash their hands or use hand sanitizer. They may avoid public spaces where high levels of germs may be present, such as public restrooms. They tend to be extremely clean and disinfect everything in their homes. They typically avoid touching other people. In extreme cases, they may also avoid leaving their home altogether.
This phobia can arise from the fear of contracting an illness upon exposure to germs. It may be related to hypochondria, which is a condition wherein a person is overly anxious about their health. While it is also thought to be related to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), people with OCD tend to be more obsessed with the act of washing their hands rather than the exposure to germs.
Affects: 5% of the U.S. population
Claustrophobia is a fear of small spaces. Space can vary from a confined area, like a closet or elevator, to being trapped in a crowded room, where others are invading one’s personal space.
When feeling trapped, they will experience extreme sensations of anxiety, similar to a panic attack, which will likely subside when they remove themselves from the space or situation. People with claustrophobia will avoid putting themselves in these situations whenever possible.
This phobia may stem from a traumatic event as a child, such as being trapped in a small space for some period of time. People with claustrophobia also tend to consider their personal space as farther from their body than people without claustrophobia. In other words, their personal space is more easily interfered with compared to other people’s.
Affects: 26.2% of the U.S. population
Glossophobia is a fear of public speaking. This can be seen as a variant of social anxiety disorder but is more specific in that people with glossophobia are afraid of talking in front of groups of people. This fear can vary widely, from becoming very nervous when standing in front of a crowd to being unable to speak at all.
People with glossophobia will evade public speaking whenever possible, usually avoiding occupations that require public speaking. As with social phobia, this may stem from the fear of being embarrassed in front of others.
There are several categories of phobias that people may be affected by, including phobias related to the natural environment, animals, situations and medical treatment. Each category has a unique set of specific phobias that are related. People with these types of phobias may experience more than one of the phobias within a group.
The phobias that fall into these categories are among the most common types of phobias. There are other phobias that do not fall into these categories, and these are listed in alphabetical order on this page.
Natural environment phobias involve fears of natural events, places in nature or situations that naturally occur.
The following are examples of natural environment phobias:
Animal phobias are the fear of specific animals or the fear of animals in general, which is termed zoophobia. Animal phobias are the most common types of specific phobias.
A list of animal phobias includes:
Situational phobias are the fear of specific situations. People with these phobias will avoid the situation at all cost, which can majorly interfere with their life.
Examples of situational phobias are found in the following list:
Medical phobias include fears of medical treatments, illnesses that require medical treatment or the people administering medical treatment.
Some examples of medical treatment phobias include:
When a phobia interferes with a person’s everyday life to the point that it is debilitating, they may seek out professional help for phobias. There are a number of different treatments for phobias, including teletherapy, cognitive behavior therapy, exposure therapy, medication and relaxation techniques.
To cope with their phobias, some people may turn to drug or alcohol use. If you are affected by a phobia and a drug or alcohol addiction, don’t hesitate to contact The Recovery Village. We have comprehensive treatment plans, including online counseling and therapy that can help you gain control of your thoughts and actions.