20 08 2009

Have you ever heard of Ichthyophobia? This is an actual condition- fear of fish.

 Of course, everyone has heard about arachnophobia and claustrophobia– fear of spiders and confined spaces- but there are many other strange phobias that hardly anyone has heard of- including fear of belly buttons (omphalophobia), fear of sitting (thaasophobia) and maybe the strangest of all; xanthophobia, fear of the color yellow.

But what really defines a phobia? According to the American Psychiatric Association, a phobia is an irrational and excessive fear of an object or situation. For example, scoleciphobia– fear of worms.

The phobic symptoms can occur even by simply thinking about the feared object. Common symptoms include: dizziness, nausea, and a sense of unreality. In some cases the symptoms can escalate into a full scale panic attack.

 Of course, having these phobias can lead to some severe difficulties in daily life- for instance, if you had rupophobia (fear of dirt), then even just walking down the street would be a chore.

There are actually different categories of phobias. There are social phobias, agoraphobias and specific phobias. Social phobias are fear of being caught in certain social situations, agoraphobia is fear of being in a specific place, and a specific phobia is when you are afraid of a certain object.

Phobias affect more than 10% of the American population and are the most common mental disorder in the United States. Strangely enough, there are far more women with phobias, than men.  

However, there is hope. In many cases, people are able to realize that they are being irrational and slowly get over their phobias with time. Only about 10% of reported phobias are lifelong cases.  Of course, there are also many ways to treat yourself as well. You can have an exposure treatment, where the patient is exposed to the feared object in order to get over their fears.  The goal of this treatment is to help the individual face their fear and realize that the feared object will not harm them. Of course, this will not work if they have something like panophobia – fear of everything.

Thankfully, not many people suffer from true phobias. Although they are a difficult to cope with and could be potentially mentally damaging, there is no need to worry yourself into catching phobophobia– fear of phobias- which could really be an awkward problem for you.

 by Giulia





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