Phobias are not just small fears you have of spiders, snakes, or clowns. People who have a Phobic Disorder enter a state of panic anytime they are near their fear. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder. It is a strong, irrational fear of something that poses little or no real danger.”
You have probably heard of claustrophobia (fear of small spaces), acrophobia (fear of heights), or arachnophobia (fear of spiders). These are some of the most common phobias in today’s society. According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, around 6.3 million Americans have a diagnosed phobia.
To put all that information into perspective; pick an object in the room you are in. Think about all the ways that that object could affect or harm your life. All the reasons you think of may seem ridiculous, but for someone with a Phobic Disorder, that object could determine whether they live or die.
One of the most common reactions to a phobia is a panic attack. Once someone is around their fear, their heart starts beating rapidly, they start sweating profusely, and they even get the feeling that they are going to die. Depending on the amount of exposure to your phobia, panic attacks can last about 1 minute or even up to an hour long.
Scientists have not been able to identify a cause for Phobic Disorders. However, similar phobias tend to run in families. Typically, you can identify a phobia in early childhood. Through medicines or psychotherapies, phobias can diminish over time and become less prevalent in adulthood.
Phobias have proven to be a serious problem in the past and in today’s society. The Statistic Brain Research Institute states that 90% of people have a fear that will never affect their life and is overall an insignificant issue. Every day, someone seeks help from medical professionals and they are diagnosed with a Phobic Disorder. On the contrary, 23% of the population is living with untreated, undiagnosed phobias.
For me, I have a mild fear of fish, also known as Ichthyophobia. It is not big enough fear to be diagnosed, however, I find fish scary enough to cause anxiety. Anytime I am around fish in water, my heart beats fast, my breathing is imbalanced, and I start to shake. Being afraid of fish is an irrational fear and even though I am aware they will not hurt me, I still find myself shaking in their presence.
If you or someone you know has a persistent fear that causes panic attacks and societal dysfunction, contact your local health care center for more information. Phobias can be fatal, so seek help immediately.