Skip to content

    Anxiety & Panic Disorders Health Center

    Select An Article
    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    The Fear Factor: Phobias

    From aviophobia, the fear of flying, to zelophobia, the fear of jealousy, the list of phobias that harrow the human mind runs long.
    By
    WebMD Feature

    Phobias come in many different forms. Acrophobia is the fear of heights. Aviophobia is the fear of flying. Felinophobia is the fear of cats. Myxophobia is the fear of slime. Xyrophobia is the fear of razors. While some are well-recognized, others are unheard of, but whatever the phobia, the person suffering from it is living with fear and anxiety.

    "Phobias are the most common mental disorder," says R. Reid Wilson, PhD, spokesman for the American Psychological Association. "Over their lifetimes, 11% of people will have a phobia."
    What are phobias, and how can someone get treatment for a fear that prevents them from shaving? WebMD looks at the different phobias that harrow the human mind, and experts explain what treatment options stand a chance against razors.

    Recommended Related to Anxiety Panic

    Understanding Panic Attack -- Symptoms

    If you have the sudden onset of four or more of the following symptoms, you may be having a panic attack: Sudden high anxiety with or without a cause Heart palpitations Sweating Shaking A "smothering" sensation or shortness of breath A feeling of choking Chest pain or discomfort Nausea Dizziness or faintness A sense of unreality A fear of going crazy or losing control A fear of dying Numbness or tingling Chills...

    Read the Understanding Panic Attack -- Symptoms article > >

    Fear vs. Phobia

    "Phobias involve the experience of persistent fear that is excessive and unreasonable," says Wilson, who is author of the book Don't Panic. "Phobias are cued when a person approaches a particular situation or object, or even anticipates the approach of it, and they understand the fear they will experience as a result of that situation will be unreasonable and excessive."

    The key to distinguishing a fear from a phobia is that that while most people get the jitters if a spider crawls on their arm, people suffering from arachnophobia -- the fear of spiders -- are physically and/or psychologically impaired by it.

    "To be defined as a phobia, the fear must cause some level of impairment," says Wilson. "I had a woman come in who was afraid of spiders, and it got to the point where she wouldn't go out at night because she couldn't see where they were."

    How does someone get to the point where she is so afraid of spiders she can't go outside?

    "There are nature and nurture components to phobias," says Kathy Hoganbruen, PhD, National Mental Health Association spokesperson. "While we don't know exactly why or where phobias originate, they are a type of mental illness, with genetics playing a role, as well as environment, meaning maybe someone had a negative or traumatic experience related to the core of their phobia."

    1 | 2 | 3 | 4
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    young leukemia patient
    Article
    Unhappy couple
    Article
     
    embarrassed woman
    SLIDESHOW
    clown
    Quiz
     
    Phobias frightened eyes
    Slideshow
    podium
    Article
     
    organize
    Article
    stressed boy in classroom
    Article
     
    Distressed teen girl in dramatic lighting
    Article
    man hiding with phone
    Article
     
    chain watch
    Article
    tarantula
    Article