Definition: A phobia is defined as an irrational and intense fear of a specific object or situation. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 8.7% of people, or about 19.2 million American adults, suffer from one or more specific phobias. The full list of phobias is almost limitless, consisting of anything that someone could fear. Phobias vary in severity from person to person. Some people are able to manage their symptoms and face the feared object, often with a great sense of terror. Others are motivated by the phobia to avoid the feared situation, sometimes at great personal cost.

Symptoms: Although the symptoms of each type of phobia will vary, there are some symptoms common to all phobias. These include:

Terror: A persistent and overwhelming fear of the object or situation. Physical Symptoms: Dizziness, shaking, palpitations. Obsessive Thoughts: Difficulty thinking about anything other than the fear. Desire to Flee: An intense instinct to leave the situation. Anticipatory Anxiety: Persistent worrying about upcoming events that involve the phobic object or situation.

Causes: Although researchers have not yet determined exactly what causes a phobia to develop, we know that phobias are rooted in the normal fear response.


  • Desensitization—step-by-step exposure to the specific phobia in safe surroundings and by using relaxation techniques, leading up to exposure to the phobia once the anxiety is reduced.
  • Flooding — prolonged exposure to a fearful situation or experience
  • Biofeedback– is designed to enable you—in mind-over-matter fashion— to use your thoughts and will to control your body. Biofeedback is based on the idea, confirmed by scientific studies, that people have the innate potential to influence with their minds many of the automatic, involuntary functions of their bodies.

Attending phobia clinics and support groups has also helped many people overcome their fears. In addition, medication may help some people overcome their phobia, but it is not usually used in initial treatment. Some medications might cause anxiety so they must be used carefully in conjunction with therapy.

Top 12 Most Common Phobias in America

  1. Mysophobia- fear of germs or dirt
  2. Pteromerhanophobia- fear of flying
  3. Social phobias- fear of social situations and people
  4. Trypanophobia- fear of injections
  5. Astraphobia-fear of thunder and lightening
  6. Cynophobia- fear of dogs
  7. Agoraphobia- fear of not being able to escape 8. Acrophobia- fear of heights
  8. Ophidiophobia- fear of snakes
  9. Arachnophobia- fear of spiders
  10. Nyctophobia- fear of the dark
  11. Dentophobia-fear of the dentist