Terrified of the creepy-crawlies? Scared of slithering serpents? Well, you’re not alone. According to the American Psychiatric Association, phobias are the most common psychiatric illness among women and the second most common among men. The National Institute of Mental Health suggests that phobias affect approximately 19.2 million U.S. adults. These phobias typically emerge during childhood or adolescence and continue into adulthood. They also impact twice as many women as they do men.
There are a number of explanations for why phobias develop, including evolutionary and behavioral theories. Whatever the cause, phobias are treatable conditions that can be minimized and even eliminated with cognitive and behavioral therapy techniques and medication.
1. Fear of Ghosts Phobia – Phasmophobia or Spectrophobia
Phasmophobia is the fear of ghosts. The word originates from Greek word ‘phasmos’ which means ‘supernatural being/phantom’ and phobos which means ‘deep dread or fear’. Another word for it is Spectrophobia, which originates from ‘specters’ or ‘reflection’.
Phasmophobia is believed to be caused by a combination of external events, internal or psychological predispositions. Such a phobia can be traced back to a specific triggering event, usually a traumatic experience at an early age and coupled with internal factors such as genetics and psychological factors, such as ghost movies, folklore or reported sightings, it therefore leads to Phasmophobia.
Many scientists believe that Phasmophobia is actually the fear of our own death or things to come. The concept of ‘returning dead people’ haunting a household might sometimes be triggered by stress which comes from the belief that someone they are close to is about to die.
2. Fear of Getting Old Phobia – Gerascophobia
Gerascophobia is the fear of growing old. The origin of the word ger is Greek (meaning old age) and phobia is Greek (meaning fear). Gerascophobia is considered to be a specific phobia, which is discussed on the home page. Gerascophobia is also known as Gerasophobia and related to Gerophobia or Gerontophobia (which both mean fear of old people or growing old).
It is generally accepted that phobias arise from a combination of external events (i.e. traumatic events) and internal predispositions (i.e. heredity or genetics). Many specific phobias can be traced back to a specific triggering event, usually a traumatic experience at an early age. Social phobias and agoraphobia have more complex causes that are not entirely known at this time. It is believed that heredity, genetics, and brain chemistry combine with life-experiences to play a major role in the development of phobias. (Wikipedia – phobia)
3. Fear of Small Spaces Phobia – Claustrophobia
Claustrophobia is a type of situational phobia (fear of certain situations) where an individual experiences great fear of small or enclosed spaces. A person suffering from Claustrophobia might be afraid of going in elevators. Many claustrophobic individuals are also known to fear being inside tunnels, caves, mines, or airplanes. They typically report seeing images of being trapped or unable to escape from such places and are known to go to great lengths to avoid them. Claustrophobia is an anxiety disorder. Symptoms usually appear during childhood or adolescence.
There may be respiratory symptoms such as being choked or unable to breathe in this situation. So next time, get your oxygen mask with you ohh..
4. Fear of Flying Phobia – Aerophobia
Are you going on a holiday or business trip where flying is neccesary, but the very thought of it is making you anxious? Then you might be suffering from Aerophobia.
Aerophobia, also known as Aviophobia, is the fear of flying either in helicopters, airplanes and other flying vehicles. In some patients, Aerophobia may be present along with other fears or phobias like Claustrophobia (fear of closed and confined spaces) or Acrophobia (fear of heights) etc. Nearly 25% of air travelers are known to suffer from this phobia.
The fear of flying is usually not related to any drugs or medications. A range of factors can be attributed for its onset. Traumatic flights in the past, possibility of motion sickness due to air turbulence, news and images of plane crashes or terrorism threats etc may also lead to development of the symptoms of fear of flying. The condition is hereditary, which means that it is likelier in kids whose parents suffer from it. DVT or deep vein thrombosis (which is common in people with cardiovascular disorders) is also known to cause bouts of Aerophobia in patients.
5. Fear of Heights – Acrophobia
Fear of heights or Acrophobia is a debilitating anxiety disorder that affects nearly 1 in every 20 adults. The word is derived from the Greek word “Acron” meaning heights and “phobos” meaning fear. Individuals having the fear of heights generally avoid tall buildings, Ferris wheels, roller coasters, skiing or even standing on high hills or balconies. Acrophobia generally affects the recreational activities one can enjoy.
According to authors, Martin Antony and Karen Rowa’s book Overcoming Fear of Heights: How toConquer Acrophobia and Live a Life without Limits, to be considered a phobia; the fear of heights must be excessive and unrealistic. Thus, the symptoms of the fear must be in excess of what the actual situation indicates or must cause significant impairment and distress in the individual.
Psychiatrists mainly blame negative thinking for Acrophobia. Negative thoughts include:
- If I stand on the ledge I will be tempted to jump or someone will push me over.
- I will lose my balance.
- The building structure is weak and will collapse, or the elevator car will crash.
- I will get dizzy or have a heart attack and fall.
6. Fear of Thunder and Lightning – Astraphobia
Extremely common in children, most cases of excessive fear of thunder or lightning gradually diminish over the years. However, many adults are known to suffer excessively from Astraphobia mainly due to a prior traumatic event associated with such adverse weather.
Diagonis: A combination of medications and psychotherapy can help treat Astraphobia. However, many a phobic has seen good results with self help techniques. These include deep breathing, positive visualizations, meditation and gradual exposure to thunder/lightning etc.
- In many cases of Astraphobia, the sufferer is known to have experienced an electric shock when there is lightning and thunder outside. This leads to a fear of storms which persists through adulthood.
- Many a phobic is also known to fear flooding which usually results from heavy rain. Such a person might have been negatively impacted by floods, lost a dear one or has had property damaged by it.
- People who are generally categorized as ‘high strung’ or ‘nervous’ and as having ‘general tendency towards fear and anxiety’ are more likely to develop an excessive fear of thunderstorms, lightning etc.