Phobias are categorized into three groups: social phobias, agoraphobia, and specific phobias. Social phobias are likely the most common and may include fear of public speaking, meeting people for the first time, or anything that puts the person in an unfamiliar social setting.
Agoraphobia is a fear of the outdoors. Specific phobias refer to fear of a particular object or situation such as insects, needles, or heights. Each of these specific phobias has their own technical names such as acrophobia which means a fear of heights. When faced with these triggers, the person can suffer a panic attack. Some symptoms of a panic attack can include accelerated heart rate, shortness of breath, sweating and an overwhelming desire to escape.
Given such an extreme reaction, it makes sense that the person would want to avoid whatever triggers the fear. This can mean making major changes to their lives. One can simply avoid animals and insects if they provoke such terror, but other phobias such as agoraphobia or aerophobia (fear of flying) can be much harder to manage.
Social phobias can also make life quite difficult, as human beings are by nature social animals. Being terrified of interacting with new people could lead one to remain isolated and alone. Fear of public speaking could present problems in the workplace. In addition, people suffering from phobias tend to be overwhelmed with dread long before the actual event which only serves to intensify their fear to an even greater degree.
Other fears such as aichmophobia (fear of needles) or dentophobia (fear of dentists or dental work) can inhibit one from getting proper medical care, which can in turn lead to much more serious consequences.
Because phobias can be so disruptive to a normal life, Sometimes a phobic person can overcome their fear through therapy. One method involves gradual desensitization to the object or situation the person dreads. Cognitive behavioral therapy is used to encourage the phobic person to rethink their phobias in a more rational light and identify the reasons behind the extreme fear reaction. It also gives other coping mechanism options to the patient to replace their avoidance. In some cases medications may be prescribed, but like most drugs, these can have a myriad of side effects.
Phobias have the potential to interfere with a person’s daily activities. If left untreated, the fear can take over the person’s life.