Having a phobia means you are extremely afraid of a specific object,
situation, or activity. Having a phobia about something is very different from
everyday worry or stress. For example, most people feel worry and stress at
some time, such as when speaking in front of a large group of people. People
with phobias have so much fear that it's hard to do normal activities, such as
going to work.
Having a phobia includes feeling stressed about
being near the object, being in the situation, or doing the activity. It also
includes being afraid of the object, situation, or activity itself. People with
phobias avoid what they are afraid of so they won't feel worried and stressed.
When Dorothea Lack was a little girl, she hid under a doctor's desk to avoid
a vaccination. Undaunted, the doctor crawled under the desk and vaccinated her
then and there. Lack said the incident provoked a fear of doctors that followed
her into adulthood. "I didn't feel I could trust them," says Lack, PhD,
now a psychologist who performs research on doctor-patient relations.
It's a rare soul who truly enjoys visiting the doctor. But for a significant
minority of the population, fear and anxiety...
The cause of phobias is unknown. If you have a
family member with a phobia, you are more likely to have a phobia. Sometimes a
person might have a phobia because he or she:
Had something bad happen, such as being bitten by a
panic attack in a specific situation, such as being in
Saw something bad happen to someone else, such as seeing a person
fall off a building.
Saw someone else who was very scared of
something, such as sitting in an airplane near a person who is afraid of
Learned about something bad happening, such as a plane
Phobias usually start when a person is a child or a
teenager. Children have more animal phobias, natural environment phobias, and
blood-injection-injury phobias than teenagers or adults. Situational phobias
usually start when a person is an adult. Women often have phobias at a younger
age than men do. If a person has one phobia, he or she is likely to have
another phobia as well.
What are the symptoms?
The main symptom of a phobia is being more afraid than most people of being around an object, being in a situation, or doing an activity. Even just the thought of these things can cause stress in people who have phobias. Children show their
stress by crying, throwing tantrums, freezing, or clinging to someone