A phobia is an overwhelming and unrealistic fear of a situation, object or place. A person with a phobia carries an exaggerated sense of fear about the certain object or situation.
There are two main categories of phobias -- simple or specific, and complex phobias. Simple or specific phobias center on a certain object or situation, such as triskaidekaphobia, the fear of the number 13. Complex phobias are more deep-rooted and stem from fear or anxiety about a particular circumstance, such as social phobias.
Phobias are not to be confused with fear. Fear is an unpleasant sensation, but it's a normal emotion we have in response to something that can be dangerous or threatening. Phobias, on the other hand, are much more pronounced. If a person encounters their phobia, it can trigger overwhelming anxiety. However, phobias can be treated through various therapies and counseling.
Here are the 10 of the most common specific phobias:
If you can't watch the Aragog scene in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, if you start crying hysterically at the sight of a web, or if you can't even stomach the thought of an eight-legged beast without feeling queasy, you have arachnophobia.
Arachnophobia is widely believed to be the most common phobia. A 1991 study conducted at City University London determined that 75 percent of the 118 students interviewed were mildly to severely afraid of these creepy crawlies. A 2015 article by The Independent credited the creatures' "legginess" with the prevalence of arachnophobia.
While herpetophobia is the fear of reptiles in general, the specific fear of snakes is the most prevalent of all other reptiles. The character Indiana Jones is perhaps the most prominent figure with ophidiophobia and developed after falling into a crate of them on one of his adventures.
Like Indy, some people develop this phobia from a traumatic event, but there is also a theory that ophidiophobia stems from evolutionary roots -- a natural avoidance of venomous snakes.
Don't look down! Acrophobia is the fear of heights and of falling. Someone with this phobia doesn't have to be up in the Chicago Skydeck to feel fear, they can become frozen and panicked even from an elevation that isn't very high at all.
Having a fear of heights is often attributed as vertigo, but vertigo and acrophobia are not interchangeable. Vertigo is an illusion of movement when one is standing still, such as the feeling of spinning. It can be triggered by looking down from a great height, but vertigo is caused by an issue with the inner ear, which affects balance.
Nobody likes getting shots, but the experience is much worse for those with trypanophobia, which is the fear of needles and injections. According to ABC News, mental health professionals estimate that trypanophobia affects about 10 percent of the adult population.
It's not even the physical act of getting a shot -- for some people, the very sight of a needle causes a vasovagal reaction, where the person faints due to a sudden drop in blood pressure.
It's hard to think that people could be afraid of Very Good Boys, but animal phobias are one of the most common types of specific phobia. According to Dr. Timothy O. Rentz of the Laboratory for the Study of Anxiety Disorders at the University of Texas, about 36 percent of people with animal phobias who seek treatment are afraid of dogs or cats.
Cynophobia can be especially debilitating to an individual because of the prevalence of doggos -- about 44 percent of Americans own a dog, according to Gallup News.
Children are commonly afraid of thunderstorms, but the fear can grow into a phobia and continue into adulthood as well. There are many components that can cause astraphobia, such as sound sensitivity, general anxiety or a fear of death.
Symptoms of astraphobia such as trembling and a sense of dread worsen when the person afflicted is alone, and they will often seek shelter under a bed, in a closet, or any space where they feel more protected.
People with claustrophobia become fearful in small spaces, even though there is no genuine threat of danger or becoming trapped. Elevators, tunnels, airplanes and subways are common in everyday life, and while most of us don't think anything of them, they can be a source of extreme anxiety or even panic attacks for people with this phobia.
According to the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, claustrophobia is often caused by a traumatic event that occurred in early life within a confined space, such as bad turbulence on a flight.
Mysophobia, aka "germophobia," is connected to obsessive-compulsive disorder and commonly manifests as compulsive hand washing. But it's more than just being a neat freak -- those with mysophobia often excessively use hand sanitizer or soap, express an extreme fear of becoming sick, fear certain public areas like bathrooms or public transportation because of the risk of germs, and avoid contact with others.
People with aerophobia believe in keeping their feet firmly on the ground and will choose 18-hour road trips over a quick flight every time. Flyers with aerophobia can experience trembling, nausea and and increased heart rate, among other responses. Acrophobia, the fear of heights, has also been linked to aerophobia.
The fear of the dark is a classic, universal fear. This concept has been widely explored in various cultures and is often linked to a supernatural connotation and the fear of the unknown. Psychologist Sigmund Freud also connected nyctophobia to separation anxiety disorder.
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