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Common phobias

Phobias are extreme and irrational fears and the source of this fear varies. It could be a fear of a particular thing such as spiders, snakes or dogs; or it could be a situation such as being in high places, or in closed spaces. Phobias can be so severe that even thinking about the trigger can cause severe anxiety symptoms such as a racing heart, cold sweat or light-headedness. However, phobias are treatable through a combination of medication and therapy. Read on about some common phobias that people face.

Acrophobia – Fear of heights

Most people have a natural fear when exposed to heights because of the fear of falling. People who have acrophobia become excessively anxious when they are in high places. Even being on a high floor of a closed building can make them panic, and become restless to come down.

Claustrophobia – Fear of confined spaces

People who have claustrophobia suffer from intense anxiety or panic when they are in closed spaces, from where they believe escape is not possible. This could include elevators, public toilets, tunnels, or small rooms with limited exits. To avoid the severe anxiety that these situations may cause, they tend to use the stairs, stay close to the exit when they are in a room with other people, or avoid travelling during rush hour.

Mysophobia – Fear of contamination

Mysophobia is a severe and irrational fear of dirt and contamination. People who have mysophobia spend a major chunk of their time either washing or cleaning. This is closely linked to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) as the habit of cleaning and washing is compulsive behavior. Such people avoid social situations or public places due to their severe fear of contamination.

Social phobia

Social phobia or social anxiety disorder is an intense fear of social situations. All of us become self-conscious when we think we are being judged by people around us. For people who have social phobia, however, the fear embarrassing themselves is so intense, that they avoid all social situations. Simple things such as going out to a meal with friends can trigger severe anxiety in such people.

Exam phobia

Examination phobia is a condition in which the person suffers from an irrational fear before or during an examination or test. This causes feelings of severe dread and an aversion to the process of examinations. People with this phobia tend to develop symptoms that mimic those of health problems as examinations approach and they try to avoid them.

Phonophobia – Fear of loud noises

We are all born with a fear of loud noises. Children are especially sensitive to sudden loud noises, but over time this passes for most people. For some people, however, this fear associates itself with a traumatic incident in their childhood, causing them to fear loud noises even in their adult years. Sounds of construction sites, alarms, or other loud noises, can cause them to feel severely anxious.


Phobias are excessive and irrational fears that can cause severe distress, but they are treatable. In severe conditions, medication is prescribed to control the anxiety. However, the major component of treatment is therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), where the person is exposed to the triggers of their anxiety in a controlled environment, to help change the irrational response of the brain to such trigger.

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