Do you know what your fears are? Have you ever thought about them? Are they just a little bit out of reach, or do they control your life completely? If you’re scared of snakes, spiders, or heights, then that’s pretty normal. But if you’re afraid of being dirty or germs, it may be time to get some help.
Read on for the most common phobias and when to seek help for them.
Social phobia, also called social anxiety disorder, is a type of anxiety disorder in which you have an extreme fear of being judged or embarrassed in social situations. It can make it hard to talk to people, go on dates, and travel.
Social phobia is one of the most common mental disorders in Canada. The exact cause isn’t clear, but it may be related to how your brain processes fear and other emotions. According to the ADAA, social phobias affect 15 million U.S. adults, or about 7.1% of the population. It is equally common among men and women, and you can see the onset of symptoms at 13 years of age.
You may also be more prone to experiencing social phobia if you have another mental health problem, such as depression or anxiety disorders. Social phobia can be treated with therapy and medication that helps control symptoms such as panic attacks and excessive worry about being judged by others.
Agoraphobia is an intense fear of being in places where escape or help might be difficult or where embarrassment might occur. Agoraphobia is the most common type of phobia and can be triggered by a traumatic event such as a mugging or car crash.
As per the National Institute of Mental Health, agoraphobia’s annual incidence rate is 0.9%, with an estimated lifetime prevalence of 1.3%. It is seen to occur in a similar number of males and females.
This type of phobia can cause extreme panic attacks when faced with situations where you may feel trapped or unable to leave. Symptoms can range from dizziness and nausea to rapid heartbeat, sweating, and difficulty breathing. Left untreated, it can lead to depression, insomnia, and even suicide attempts due to a lack of self-esteem caused by social isolation.
Treating phobias can take time and multiple therapy sessions. In this case, the better idea for you will be to seek professional help locally. With over 198,811 therapists in the US, you can simply type “find a therapist near me” on Google when you decide to begin your wellness journey.
Acrophobia is a phobia of heights and/or high places. It’s one of the most common phobias, affecting about one in 25 people.
It’s also called height anxiety or altitude sickness. This condition can cause dizziness, nausea, sweating, and difficulty breathing as you get higher up from the ground.
If you have acrophobia, it may be hard for you to stand near balconies or look over balcony railings without feeling anxious or panicky. You might feel like you’re going to pass out when standing at the top of an escalator or on top of a Ferris wheel.
Claustrophobia is the fear of small spaces. According to Health Research Funding, 5% of the U.S. population may suffer from some form of this phobia. Sometimes kids with claustrophobic parents also end up with claustrophobia.
People with claustrophobia may be afraid to endure enclosed spaces, like elevators, tunnels, or airplanes. They also tend to avoid tight places such as closets and caves.
A person with a claustrophobic reaction might feel like they can’t breathe, faint, or even die in these situations. They might experience panic attacks related to the phobia that are so severe they interfere with daily life.
Mysophobia or Germophobia
The main symptom of mysophobia is the excessive fear of germs and contamination. People with this type of phobia may wash their hands excessively, avoid touching surfaces or other people or avoid touching objects that others have handled. It can also lead to feelings of panic when exposed to dirt, germs, or anything else associated with a disease.
If you think that you suffer from mysophobia, seek help from a mental health professional such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, who can determine whether there are other underlying issues involved in your condition (such as depression) and provide treatment options accordingly.
Spiders are not insects. They’re arachnids, and they can be found everywhere, from the most remote desert to your backyard. Despite what you might have heard on television or in movies, spiders aren’t poisonous (except for a few rare exceptions like black widows).
That said, some people may still suffer from phobias related to these creatures because they’ve been bitten by one before or had an unpleasant experience. Otherwise, this is called arachnophobia. If your fear is so extreme as to interfere with daily life, for example, if you can’t go outside after dark because there might be spiders, then it may be time for you to seek professional help.
When You Should Get Help for Your Fears
There are times when you should get help for your fears.
If you feel like fear is interfering with your day-to-day life, it’s time to seek help from a professional. The following are some signs that you may need some extra assistance or guidance:
- The fear has become so overwhelming that it is affecting other aspects of your life. A common example would be if the fear of spiders causes someone to miss work or school because they can’t bring themselves to leave their house.
- You have tried several different methods of overcoming the phobia and haven’t been successful at all, yet still find yourself struggling with the same phobia after years have passed by.
- You experience frequent panic attacks related to this specific fear, especially if these occur in situations where help isn’t readily available (such as being out hiking alone).
We hope this article has helped you to understand phobias’ basics. If you are suffering from one of these or any other fear, remember that it is not your fault, and there is help available. Don’t let your fears control you. Instead, seek out help for them and live a happy life.