Almost everyone has an irrational fear or two- whether it be a fear of heights or of spiders; but at a certain point, fear intensifies and crosses the line into a phobia. A phobia is defined as a persistent, abnormal, and irrational fear of a specific thing or situation that compels one to avoid it, despite the awareness and reassurance that it is not dangerous. A phobia causes intense physical and psychological reactions which affects a person’s ability to function normally at work or in social settings. Triggering worry, dread, and anxiety, phobias cause people to avoid the things or situations they fear. Phobias affect more than ten million Americans a year
(“Phobias & Fears.”).
Symptoms of phobias vary from mild feelings of anxiety to full panic attacks. The closer the person with the phobia gets to their feared object, the greater the fear will be. Phobias have both physical and emotional symptoms. The physical signs of phobias are difficulty breathing, racing or pounding heart, chest pain or tightness, trembling or shaking, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, a churning stomach, hot or cold flashes, tingling sensations, and sweating. The emotional signs of phobias are feeling overwhelming anxiety or panic, feeling an intense need to escape, feeling “unreal” or detached from yourself, fear of losing control or going crazy, feeling like you’re going to die or pass out, and knowing that you’re overreacting, but feeling powerless to control your fear (Staff, Mayo Clinic).
Fear, as an adaptive human response, is normal in dangerous circumstances; but in phobias the threat is either over-exaggerated or nonexistent. There is a thin line between phobias and fears although the difference between the two is very apparent. The normal fear of feeling butterflies in your stomach when peering down from the top of a skyscraper or climbing a tall ladder transitions into a phobia when a person turns down a great job because it’s on the tenth floor of the office building. The normal fear of getting nervous when you see a Pit-bull or a Rottweiler turns into a phobia when a person steers clear of the park because they might see a dog. The normal fear of feeling a little queasy when getting a shot or when your blood is being drawn turns into a phobia when a person avoids necessary medical treatments or doctor’s checkups because they are terrified of needles ("TeensHealth.").
There is still no apparent cause of phobias but it is theorized that children learn phobias by observing phobic reactions of others. It is also theorized that brain chemicals, genetics, and traumatic experiences may cause the development of phobias. There are four factors that may increase your risk of gaining a phobia which are your age, your sex, your family, and whether or not a traumatic event has happened to you. Social phobias often develop before the age twenty-five while the fear of tunnels, elevators, bridges, flying, driving and other situational phobias usually develop by the mid...