Even though there are hundreds of phobias, the vast majority of them fall into a category called specific phobias. Specific phobias are what most folk consider a phobia to be. A person is frightened by a thing, object or situation that should not be feared, especially not to the degree, that somebody with a phobia fears it. Nevertheless, specific phobias can be overcome without much trouble.
Most common phobias, such as claustrophobia and arachnophobia, are specific phobias. As with all phobias, they are an irrational fear, typically centering on a situation that is perceived as being uncontrollable or dangerous.
Essentially, somebody with a specific phobia sees a normally non threatening thing or situation as being extremely serious. Although nobody particularly likes spiders, for example, only those with a phobia are gripped by fear.
The sad part is, many folk with phobias realize that they should not be terrified of a spider or closed in area, or whatever may trigger their phobia, but there is little they can do to change how they feel when the phobic reaction is upon them.
The five types of specific phobia are
- Animal phobias
- Natural environment phobias
- Situational phobias
- Blood injection phobia
- Other specific phobias
Animal phobias are simply the fear of certain animals, while natural environment phobias are fears concerning aspects of the natural environment, such as heights or thunderstorms. Situational phobias are fears of a scenario that are perceived to be dreadful, like going to the doctor or being trapped in a small space. Blood injection phobias are the fear of needles, blood, or medical procedures, and although all phobias make folk feel like they might pass out, blood injection phobias are the only phobias that will actually make somebody faint. There is an 'other' category for phobias that is designated for phobias that do not fit cleanly into the other four groups.
Although there is no definite way to cure every case of phobia, specific phobia treatments focus on making a person confront their fear. This method works because the phobia is an irrational reaction and their brain sees something as a greater threat than it is.
By exposing oneself to the phobic trigger and replacing the phobic response with a controlled response, they break the link in their brain between the trigger and danger. Sometimes medication can help reduce the anxiety associated with severe specific phobias, but medication is used much more commonly with other types of phobias.
Even though you would think that anything that was not a specific phobia would be obvious and completely different, the other two phobia families were once considered to be specific phobias. Social phobias and Agoraphobia are similar to situational phobias, but their cause and treatments are much different and are more dependent on using medication to get the phobic reactions under control. Because of the difficulty in properly diagnosing phobias, if you think you are phobic, seek a doctor's opinion before experimenting on yourself.