A recent study has shown that over 10 million adults in the U.S. suffer from some sort of phobia, and that some of those phobias are so consuming, that they interfere with everyday life. Problems like these have led to psychologists and other researchers developing some effective behavioral and pharmacological treatments for phobia, as well as technological interventions. More recently, scientists have been researching what goes on in the brain that causes phobias, so that they can fine tune a treatment. All phobias are anxiety disorders, being put in the same category as PTSD and panic disorders. All anxiety disorders are based on fear. The part of the brain that has been pinpointed as the source of phobias is the amygdala. The researchers found that there is a double pathway leading to and from the amygdala. One path leads directly from a frightening sensory stimulus to the amygdala in just a few thousandths of a second. A second, slower pathway travels first to the higher cortex before reaching the amygdala. Studies into these areas have led researchers to believe that phobias and other anxiety disorders are caused by some type of malfunction in the amygdala and related brain areas..
Most Common Phobias
Although there are many different types of phobias, there are 10 that seem to be the most common in people in many different countries.These phobias were measured through a survey of just under 1000 people, and the percentages are based off of how many of the 1000 admitted to having that phobia.
1. Glossophobia - Fear of Public Speaking - 37%
2. Acrophobia - Fear of Heights - 35%
3. Arachnophobia - Fear of Spiders - 30%
4. Claustrophobia - Fear of Enclosed Spaces - 25%
5. Nyctophobia - Fear of the Dark - 20%
6. Agoraphobia - Fear of Open Spaces - 11%
7. Cynophobia - Fear of Dogs - 9%
8. Aviophobia - Fear of Flying - 7%
9. Sociaphobia - Fear of Interacting with Others - 6%
10. Necrophobia - Fear of Death - 5%
Most people that took the survey also admitted that they wished that they could conquer their phobia(s), that they believed that conquering their phobia(s) was possible, and that their phobia(s) had held them back from doing something that they wanted to do in the past.
Arachnophobia is one of the most common phobias that people have. The idea of little eight-legged arachnids crawling around and biting people occasionally just freaks some people out. The fear can be so bad that arachnophobics completely avoid places where they think spiders may be. In the more severe cases, the people can not even stand to see pictures or even think about spiders. Arachnophobia has been ranked the third worst phobia that people suffer from. At least 3.5% - 6.1% of the population is likely to have arachnophobia. 30.5% of the population of the U.S suffer from arachnophobia. Out of this 30.5%, women are the majority. Studies have also shown that only about 2% of people search out treatment for this phobia. Symptoms of Arachnophobia mainly circle around the avoidance of having any interactions with spiders. If symptoms become so severe that a person's daily life is disrupted, they should see a doctor. Treatments include desensitization- being taught techniques such as breathing control, meditation and muscle control, and then being exposed to pictures, or real, spiders, Cognitive Behavioral therapy (CBT)- the person goes through counseling so that they become self aware of their problem, and medication- anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medicines are used to get the symptoms under control, depending on the severity of the case.
Acrophobia is the fear of heights. Unlike most phobias that have to do with only one thing, acrophobia has many sub-phobias to go along with it. Some subphobias include illyngophobia- the fear of developing vertigo, which actually leads to the development of vertigo, bathmophobia- the fear of stairs and slopes, climacophobia- the fear of climbing, and aerophobia, the fear of flying. Symptoms of acrophobia include shaking or sweating when beginning to rise off the ground (by elevator, ladder, etc...), developing a sense of panic from heights, having heart palpatations due to heights, and dreading any situation that involves heights. Common reactions involve screaming, crawling on all fours, panic attacks, becoming paralyzed, and avoiding all situations that involve heights. Acrophobia can really disrupt your life. For example, if you get a job that is on a high floor you will probably not take the job, and if you do, you will not be working productively due to your phobia. Because heights are typically involved in everyday life, people suffering from acrophobia should be treated as soon as possible. Acrophobia is not entirely unnatural. Studies have been done where it has been proven that even infants of many different species, including humans, are somewhat afraid of heights. Acrophobia just takes this to another level. Treatments for acrophobia include psychotherapy- the main treatment of choice for a specific phobia, which exposes you to the feared situation either gradually or rapidly, and teaches you emotional coping mechanisms along with ways to stop panic attacks, exposure- either real life or virtual reality, medication- sedatives or beta blockers, and relaxation- yoga, meditation, and other activities that help deal with stress.
Ophidiophobia is the fear of snakes. Ophidiophobia is often confused with herpetophobia, the fear of reptiles. Ophidiophobia can be mild or severe. Mild involves only being afraid of large or poisonous snakes (more than usual), and severe involves all snakes, even small nonpoisonous species such as the garter snake. Ophidiophobia can also be disruptive to your life. You may begin to avoid all places that even have a possibility of having snakes, such as a pet store, campgrounds, hiking trips, zoos, and nature preserves. Ophidiophobia can also become so severe that it develops into herpetophobia so that you are afraid of all reptiles, which can be even more disruptive to daily life. That is why treatment should be sought out quickly. Treatments involve cognitive behavioral therapy- being encouraged to talk about your fear and taught to view snakes in a different perspective, and being slowly exposed to snakes, beginning with things such as photographs and maybe even building up to a live encounter with a small snake, undergoing counseling, and hypnosis- to assist in relaxation. Treatment of ophidiophobia has shown promising results, and is fairly simple. Different treatments work for different people, so some people might need to try different methods before finding the one that works for them, while others might find their optimal treatment on their first try.
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1. Spider- alexhyde.photoshelter.com
2. Person on Building- https://www.verywellmind.com/acrophobia-fear-of-heights-2671677