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.
Normal life includes some anxiety and fear. In a stressful situation, your brain triggers a flood of chemicals into the bloodstream. Your heart beats faster; your breath becomes shallow and rapid; muscles tense; your mind goes on full alert. It's all part of the human's innate reaction to a threat: You're ready to flee or fight.
Sometimes anxiety and fear linger on and on. The feelings can be overwhelming. When they interfere with normal activities, there's a problem. Doctors call this kind of problem...
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.