A phobia is the excessive or unreasonable fear of something that actually presents little or no danger. Phobias can take many forms. A person suffering from a phobia may go to great lengths to avoid the feared object or situation, which can make the phobia even worse. People with phobias, particularly social phobia, may also have problems with substance abuse if they turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with their fears and anxieties.
Some common types of phobias are of animals (snakes, spiders), the natural environment (storms, water, dark), situations (flying, small spaces, heights) and harm to body (blood, needles, injury).
Approximately 5 -10% of the US population has one or more phobias. They are common, treatable issues. If you or a friend have a phobia that is making it hard to get things done or enjoy life, the first step to feeling better is to reach out for help.
Symptoms of phobias include:
- Overwhelming anxiety or panic
- Intense need to escape
- Fear of losing control
- Feeling like you’re going to die or faint
- Feeling powerless over those fears
- Physical symptoms like difficulty breathing, racing heart, trembling, dizziness, sweating and lightheadedness.