Phobias are defined as an anxiety disorder. People who suffer from any type of phobia can feel extreme fear, and may even have a panic attack if they find themselves in a situation in which they are terrified of. It is estimated that around 5% of the world’s population suffers from some type of phobia . In addition, as suggested by data from the National Institutes of Health, women are up to four times more likely to suffer from a phobia than men. In this article we will review the most common phobias and what exactly they consist of.
There are many different types of phobias, such as acrophobia, fear of heights. Thus, it is common for people who feel a phobia of a certain element or situation to try to avoid what causes them intense fear. The most common symptoms are: panic, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, tremors in the hands and the need to escape.
In the vast majority of cases, phobias begin during childhood and continue into adulthood . Regarding the causes of the same, one of the most common is an event or a traumatic experience. In certain phobias, genetics can also play a key role.
The six most common phobias in the world
Below we indicate which are the most common phobias. In the vast majority of cases they occur in adulthood as a result of some trauma suffered during childhood.
Arachnophobia is the most common type of phobia in the world; It is estimated that 33% of people globally have an intense fear of spiders. The fact of being in the presence of these arachnids generates extreme levels of anxiety, and even panic attacks that may require medical assistance.
The symptoms of arachnophobia are very specific and, in addition, they are very similar to those of a panic attack: anxiety, excessive sweating, rapid heart rate, crying attacks, and even visual and auditory hallucinations in the most extreme cases .
Regarding the causes of arachnophobia, the truth is that they are not entirely clear; however, there are two widely spread. On the one hand, Seligman’s theory of preparation ; Applying it to this type of phobia, human beings could have learned and internalized throughout their evolution that spiders are very dangerous animals since they are potentially deadly, which led them to develop a natural tendency to avoid these animals.
And, on the other hand, there is a theory that arachnophobia is a type of phobia that develops from learning. It would therefore be a response acquired after a negative experience related to spiders, especially during childhood.
According to statistics, about 35% of people have a fear of flying , which is known as aerophobia. In the vast majority of occasions, this phobia is caused by the fear of suffering a plane crash; However, the truth is that the risk of accident is much lower than in any other means of transport, such as the car.
In an increasingly globalized world, the airplane has become one of the most used means of transport by users. Well, the fear of traveling on it causes very intense suffering to those who suffer from aerophobia, giving rise to a wide range of symptoms such as nausea, vomiting or even panic attacks.
There are a series of tips that are worth remembering among those who suffer from this phobia. First of all, it is not advisable to avoid thinking about the fact of flying before an airplane trip; and it is that mentally reviewing how the trip is going to take place can be of great help. Second, learning about the operation and safety of the plane is a great option; and it is that in many cases aerophobia is caused by a lack of information. Of course, stress should be avoided as much as possible during the day of the flight, approaching the trip in a relaxed and unhurried manner. And finally, doing relaxation exercises is very useful to overcome anxiety.
Astraphobia is defined as a specific phobia towards lightning, thunder and storms. People who suffer from astraphobia feel an intense fear of both the lights and the loud sounds of these natural phenomena. Thus, it is common for a certain storm to feel symptoms such as panic, excessive sweating, tachycardia, nausea, tremors … In addition, they often feel the need to hide under tables, beds or any other element that is within reach.
As with the vast majority of phobias, the origin of astraphobia can lie in an experience lived both in the first person and at the hand of a close person: a story of someone who was struck by lightning …
The most important thing is to try to stay in control , even if it is difficult during the storm; Having family and / or friends close to you can be very helpful. Relaxation techniques are also very suitable to reduce the level of anxiety.
Although agoraphobia is defined as the intense fear of open spaces, the truth is that this term goes much further; it is the feeling of fear of being trapped with no possibility of escape . Thus, people who suffer from this phobia tend to avoid certain situations that they consider can cause a panic or anxiety attack, such as the simple fact of leaving home.
The exact causes of agoraphobia are not known. The origin depends on each particular case, although in the vast majority of occasions it occurs when the patient suffers an anxiety attack and begins to feel fear of any possible situation that could trigger a crisis of this type.
Those who suffer from agoraphobia feel afraid of being or staying alone, feeling panicky in public places, sudden changes in behavior, shortness of breath, nausea, tremors …
One of the most common extreme fears, both among children and adults, is trypanophobia; that is, extreme fear of needles . Thus, for people who suffer from trypanophobia, going to the doctor for a simple blood test or an injection can lead to a very high state of anxiety. On certain occasions, trypanophobia is confused with fear of blood, which is called hematophobia.
In practically 100% of cases, fear of needles occurs during childhood, and lasts into adulthood; and even throughout life if proper treatment is not established. The vast majority of people who suffer from this phobia have developed it as a result of a traumatic experience in their childhood or adolescence. And, although the injections or blood tests do not generate great pain, these people interpret it as a very serious threat to them. It is because of her that she enters our ranking of the most common phobias.
In some cases, trypanophobia also develops by observation. This is the case, for example, of a child who sees an adult suffer an anxiety or panic attack when giving an injection. Some theories indicate that another cause of this phobia may be genetic, although the truth is that there are not too many experts who support it.
Claustrophobia is defined as an anxiety disorder in which the person feels an intense fear of staying in a closed place since they have the feeling that they will not be able to get out of it; it can occur in an elevator, in a closed room, in a public space … It is estimated that 5% of people suffer from this phobia , making it one of the most common phobias in the world.
Contrary to what many think, claustrophobia does not occur due to the characteristics of the space itself, for example because it is small and dark; the phobia takes place by the irrational thoughts that the person who suffers it has about the consequences that can suffer in the space in question. The sensations of not being able to move or of being unable to breathe are some of the most frequently repeated.
In many cases, claustrophobia occurs due to a traumatic experience in a small or dark space , such as being locked in an elevator. Of course, there are certain cases in which the person suffering from this phobia does not even need to have experienced a traumatic episode herself; it is enough to have seen a movie in which the protagonist experiences a confinement or a situation of this type.
Several studies have shown that those who suffer from claustrophobia show a clear cognitive impairment when calculating the space in which they are. They perceive it smaller than it really is.
Treatment of phobias
Fear is an innate ability of the human being; We are all programmed to be afraid. And the truth is that fear is necessary since it provides us with very useful information that on many occasions protects us, activating the alert mechanisms that allow us to ensure our survival. The main problem occurs when fear does not respond to any type of stimulus that really poses a danger to our physical and / or mental integrity. This is when we are faced with a phobia: an irrational fear that in the vast majority of cases requires treatment.
Those who suffer from a phobia of a certain situation or some element, try to do everything in their power to avoid contact. Well, this avoidance behavior can significantly impair the quality of life of users: social and family isolation, loss of job opportunities …
The specific or simple phobias as we have noted in the previous section are intense fears in the presence of a particular object, such as a spider or a needle. Thus, the real, or even imaginary exposure to them, generates a situation of great anxiety.
These types of phobias can be treated with the help of psychotherapy ; in the most extreme cases, psychiatric intervention can be considered. The main objective is to recover functionality to avoid both personal and contextual deterioration of the individual himself. Thus, the therapist directs his work towards the management of negative thoughts, the creation of alternative thoughts, and the generation of adaptive emotions.
Tips to overcome a phobia
When it comes to overcoming a phobia, in addition to proper treatment in the hands of a therapist, it is also important to do personal work. Here are the four key steps to take.
- Analysis: first, it is essential to analyze the origin of the phobia in question; that is, reflect on what past event has led to it. This is the first step to overcome the irrational and intense environment before a certain object or situation; Be aware of the source of anxiety.
- Mentality: once the origin of the phobia is clear, the next step is to think about the best way to face the situation or the feared object. Exposure should be gradual, so that it becomes easier and easier and generates less anxiety. It is important to remember that although a phobic situation cannot put a person in a real danger situation, they experience it in this way emotionally. Thus, it is worth bearing in mind that a phobia does not disappear overnight and that initially that feeling of fear and anxiety will occur.
- Exhibition: once it is clear how to deal with the object or situation, it is time to take action. Do not try harder than necessary; it is a gradual and progressive process.
- Firmness: overcoming a phobia is not something that happens suddenly. There are people who take months and even years to really feel comfortable with the situation or object that causes them intense fear. The idea is that each time you have a greater tolerance towards that situation or object. And, above all, stay firm and move forward in the purpose of saying goodbye to anxiety.
Here concludes this article on the most common phobias. You might also be interested in this other article about the rarest phobias.
Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.