We all have fears, and sometimes they can seem quite irrational but we feel them anyway. But when does a fear become a phobia?
The difference is, while all phobias are fears, not all fears are phobias. This is because a phobia is an intense fear of something, and the fear of that thing impairs you mentally or physically – or both. Your fear becomes so extreme that you are unable to be around it, and most often you will avoid ever going near or around. Which can often dramatically affect your way of life.
Phobias are a type of mental illness, and they have many side effects like anxiety, depression, nausea, tremors, chest pain and increased heart rate. All of these side effects are due to your brain's reaction to the fear.
This is also known as social anxiety disorder and is the most common phobia across the globe. The fear centres around people, and the dread and anxiety you feel about how they think or judge you. This, in turn, will cause you to start avoiding any situation that involves social interaction or embarrassment around others.
When anxiety and fear form into a phobia it can lead to everyday tasks, like going shopping, becoming difficult for you. However, it is a misconception to think that only introverted people can develop the phobia because the phobia can be triggered in anyone, even those with an outgoing personality. It is often started by a humiliating incident that has happened in the public which has caused you great anxiety and dread. Due to this, you start to edge away from social interactions that could cause that sort of fear again.
There are many misconceptions about agoraphobia, the main two being that it is a fear of open space or a fear of leaving home. These can be fears due to the phobia, but it is really the fear of not being safe. Agoraphobia makes you fear the idea of being trapped and unable to escape, or somewhere that help isn’t nearby. So say if you were in someone else’s car, you would fear that you wouldn’t be able to escape if you needed to. So to combat this, you might only ever go in your own car, or avoid transport altogether. This therefore can limit your lifestyle, your job and your social life.
Often if you have agoraphobia you will have a safe place and most often this will be your home. This is because the fear of something happening that you can’t escape from in your house is a lot less likely. This is why many think agoraphobia is the fear of leaving your house, because it is often a side effect.
Agoraphobia can actually be the accumulation of many phobias, and can cause severe anxiety and depression.
This phobia is probably one of the most well-known phobias, and is the fear of confined spaces. You can have an ongoing irrational fear of confined space, which could have developed from a past experience where you were in confined space and you were trapped.
The sight of blood is never a pleasing sight, but if you have haemophobia you will have an intense reaction to the sight of blood. This type of phobia causes a sudden drop in your blood pressure, which can lead to dizziness or even the possibility of fainting.
Haemophobia is also not just the sight of blood, but the thought of blood. This phobia itself can actually stem from many different phobias, like a fear of needles, or having you blood taken – this is called trypanophobia. It also could be due to a fear of catching diseases or illnesses, so once you see the blood you have an intense anxiety because of the fear you might get infected.
How to deal with your phobia
We live in a society that at times seems to have a fear of phobias, or any type of mental health. But the best way to deal with your phobias is to speak up about them, and get talking to your friends and family. This will allow you to feel safer and could decrease the effects of your phobia.
There are also many types of therapies that can help you cope or get over your fears. One of the best therapies for dealing with phobias and anxiety is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). This therapy slowly exposes you to your fears, but in a safe environment that will slowly help you face your phobia. We encourage anyone who has a phobia or anxiety disorder to get advice and help from their local GP.
We also have online forums, where you can speak to others with anxiety and fear, and build a supportive community around you.