We often hear the word “phobia” but we only have a little knowledge about it. When a friend of yours is afraid of heights, you tend to conclude that she has a phobia for heights or scientifically known as acrophobia. Well, your friend might have a fear of heights but it doesn’t mean that she is already suffering from acrophobia. Before you make any conclusion, it is important that you know some important information about phobias and why it seems to affect many people.
What is A Phobia?
By definition, a phobia is an irrational fear. It is a type of anxiety disorder in which the sufferer relentlessly dreads a situation, a place, a situation or a living creature that poses little or no real danger. Those people with phobias can go to great lengths just to avoid a perceived danger, which is much greater in their minds. When those people with phobias are confronted with the source of their phobia, they will experience enormous distress and fear which can interfere with their daily activities. To some people, just thinking about their phobia can lead them to feel panic.
It is normal for a person to feel fear, especially when exposed to certain threats and dangers. With phobias, the fear is excessive. Moreover, a person with a phobia tends to organize his/her life avoiding the object of his/her fear. A phobia is much more serious compared to a simple fear. Phobias affect different people – regardless of a person’s age and gender. It affects people from all walks of life and people from different parts of the world. People suffering from a phobia will show signs and symptoms, which include:
- Feeling of panic, terror and excessive fear our a situation or object
- Your reactions are uncontrollable that it practically takes over your thought process
- Rapid heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- You take extreme measure just to avoid the feared object or situation
Phobias are divided into different categories in accordance to the source of fear. The three classes of phobias are social phobias (sometimes called social anxiety disorder), agoraphobia (fear of being in open places or trapped in places you cannot escape e.g. crowds) and specific phobias (fear of a specific thing and situation).
How Common Are Phobias?
Phobias are quite common in people – especially in industrial nations. In Australia, 10 percent of the country’s total population is suffering from different types of phobias. In the UK, over 10 million people are thought to live with a phobia. Although it can affect people of any sex and age, a much higher percentage of women suffer phobias. Phobias might be common but fortunately, people are able to recognize that their fear is quite irrational; they take steps to overcome their fear before it gets worse and affects their quality of life.