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Definition, Causes & types of phobias

A phobia is an anxiety disorder that is characterized by extreme and persistent fear of an object or situation. Disorders of anxiety are associated with it. A person with a phobia probably realizes that their fear is irrational, yet they still can't control their feelings. It is possible to become anxious simply by imagining the feared object or situation. The terror becomes automatic and overwhelming when you see the thing you fear.

Phobias can be categorized into specific phobias, social phobias, and agoraphobia. Phobias assigned to certain animals, situations that occur in natural environments, blood or injury, and specific situations make up the category of specific phobias. Fear of spiders (Arachnophobia), snakes (Ophidiophobia), and heights is the most common. Childhood negative experiences may cause particular phobias. The fear of being judged by others is what causes people to have social phobias.


Phobias can be inherited or caused by environmental factors. Children with a family member with an anxiety disorder are at risk. Distressing experiences, such as nearly drowning, can trigger a phobia. Phobias can be triggered by confined spaces, extreme heights, and animal or insect bites. Often, people who have ongoing medical conditions or health concerns develop phobias. Traumatic brain injuries and substance abuse can also cause phobias. Depression and substance abuse can also contribute to phobias.

In schizophrenia, people experience hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, negative symptoms such as anhedonia, and disorganized symptoms. In phobias, individuals normally have positive symptoms such as fear and anxiety.

Types of Phobias

Acrophobia (fear of heights) Acrophobia is the fear of heights. Unlike other phobias, such as aerophobia, which is the fear of flying, acrophobia causes you to fear things associated with heights. A fear of heights can be as strong as a fear of climbing a ladder, depending on the magnitude of the phobia.


Psychologically and physically, acrophobia reacts the same as other phobias. Those who suffer from acrophobia may not experience vertigo symptoms, but they may experience the following:

  • Emotional Symptoms: In situations where you perceive that you're high off the ground, you may feel a sense of panic, frantically searching for something to hold onto and feeling that you cannot trust your sense of balance. As a reaction, many people descend immediately, crawl on all fours, or kneel or lower their body in some other way.

  • Physical Symptoms: There is a possibility that you will start shaking, sweating, experiencing heart palpitations, and even crying or yelling out. You might feel terrified and helpless. You might find it difficult to function at all.

  • Anxiety and Avoidance: Acrophobia is defined as the fear of being high up. You may begin to dread situations that may force you to be in a high place. It may not be fun to spend time with friends whose homes have balconies or windows that are too high up. You may avoid going on vacation if you expect to stay in a hotel room on a high floor.


If you experience the signs of acrophobia, it is important to seek professional help as soon as possible. Acrophobia can share certain symptoms with vertigo, a medical disorder that has numerous causes, as well as with other phobias.

Treatments for acrophobia include:

  • Psychotherapy: The most effective way to treat specific phobias is cognitive-behavioural therapy or CBT. Behavioural techniques that expose the phobic situation slightly and rapidly (systematic desensitization) are often employed. As well, you will learn how to control your emotions and stop panicking.

  • Exposure: The most common solution is actual exposure to heights. There is no need for "on-location" therapist accompaniment in virtual reality treatment, which offers substantial time and cost savings.

  • Medication: When you are experiencing panic and anxiety, sedatives or beta-blockers can sometimes help relieve your symptoms for a short time. A clinical trial with D-cyclomerize for anxiety disorders has been underway since 2008. Based on a 2012 study, increasing results may be achieved by using both pharmacological and cognitive-behavioural therapy. 

  • Relaxation: You can cope with stress and anxiety by practising yoga, deep breathing, and meditation. Regular exercise can help too.

  1. Anthropophobia (Fear of people & society)

The fear of people is called anthropophobia. NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) does not use the term. Sociophobia, or a fear of social gatherings, is referred to by some researchers as being similar to it. An anonymous social setting, such as a crowd of random people, could be comfortable if you suffer from sociophobia. If you have anthropophobia, you'll likely feel just as anxious in that crowd as in any other social setting.


A lot of people suffer from panic attacks. An anthropophobia person may develop when confronted by another individual. Symptoms include: ‌ 

  • Sweating and shaking‌

  • Reddening of the skin‌

  • Trouble breathing, speaking or making decisions

  • Running away

  • Feeling that something bad is about to happen

  • Fast heartbeat


Anxiety disorders such as anthropophobia and other anxiety issues are thought to lead to recreational drug abuse and drinking. There is even a possibility that they will abuse prescription medications such as sedatives.

The treatment mix is likely to be mind-based therapy, or "talk therapy." Some pieces of this type of therapy are:

  • Systematic desensitization: Starting from what you fear the least, you work your way up to what you fear the most. Making a list of your fears helps you focus on relaxing while concentrating on them.

  • Challenges: With homework, you can teach new behaviours to old ones.

  • Support groups.

  • Stress management: As a possible remedy, some researchers recommend meditation as well as exercise.

Apart from these, there are many different types of phobias. As in: -

Ø Glossophobia (Fear in speaking in public)

Ø Claustrophobia (Fear of enclosed or tight spaces)

Ø Aviophobia (fear of flying)

Ø Hemophobia (fear of blood or injury)

Ø Cynophobia (fear of dogs)

Ø Nyctophobia (fear of the nighttime or darkness)

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