What we fear, and the extent to which we fear it, can have a huge impact on our lives. Some people fear particular objects, such as spiders or dogs. Others fear particular situations, such as going to the dentist.
Having fears at this level isn’t unusual. It may be unpleasant, but on the whole, it is unlikely to have too much of an impact on how we live our lives.
When a fear becomes a phobia
Visiting the dentist or climbing up a ladder may not be top of our list of favourite things to do. However, we don’t generally go to extreme lengths to avoid doing it. That is, unless we have a phobia.
It is irrational fear
A fear has become a phobia when you go to great lengths to avoid an object or a situation that most others consider perfectly harmless. They are fears that are out of proportion to the true danger. Because the irrational sense of anxiety or fear is so acute and unpleasant, it severely restricts day-to-day life.
It can make you feel stressed, anxious and overwhelmed.
Many people with phobias will avoid getting themselves into a situation where they have to face whatever is causing their fear. However, this isn’t always practical and can significantly interfere with everyday life.
Phobias have differing levels of complexity and severity, as do the issues they cause.
Over ten million Britons have a phobia.
According to a survey by Anxiety UK, these ten are the most commonly reported phobias.
Social phobia – fear of interacting with other people.
Agoraphobia – fear of open public spaces. People with this phobia often refuse to leave home.
Emetophobia – this fear of vomiting is common enough to have its own name.
Erythrophobia – fear of blushing. The more you worry about it, the more you are likely to blush.
Driving phobia – fear of driving that can leave suffers isolated and reliant on taxis or public transport.
Hypochondria – excessive fear about your health and a tendency to imagine that you have illnesses that you do not actually have.
Aerophobia – Not being able to sit comfortably and enjoy a flight to, perhaps, a far away paradise.
Arachnophobia – Millions of people across the globe fear our eight legged friends.
Zoophobia – a fear of not just one animal but all animals.
Claustrophobia – fear of enclosed spaces, such as lifts, aeroplanes or small rooms.
There are many different ways to tackle fears and phobias. Treatments may be blended together to ensure the best success. If you would like to find out more about phobias and how they can be overcome, see our case studies or request our brochure.