A phobia is a clinical term that is used to describe an irrational and persistent fear of certain objects, situations, activities, or persons. These fears are beyond one’s control and may interfere with one’s daily activities. Phobias belong to a large group of mental problems known as anxiety disorders. Other conditions included in this group are obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There are many forms of phobias, and they can be a fear of something specific such as flying or social fears that may cause certain individuals to feel anxious in social situations. Other examples of this disorder may involve fear of small animals, closed spaces, and snakes. It usually begins at home and persists into adulthood. Some of these conditions if not treated may hamper a person’s development. Phobias may also be considered to be one of the weird medical conditions that still baffles the people in the field of mental health.
Health researchers believe that common forms of phobias may include the following:
Arachnophobia—the fear of spiders.
Ophidiophobia—the fear of snakes
Acrophobia—the fear of heights
Agoraphobia—the fear if circumstances in which escape is difficult. It may include crowded areas or open spaces.
Cynophobia—the fear of dogs
Astraphobia—the fear of thunder and lightning
Trypanophobia—the fear of injections
Social phobias—the fear of social situations
Pteromerhanophobia—the fear of flying
Mysophobia—the fear of germs or dirt
The causes of phobias, like other weird medical conditions, are not yet determined by health experts, but research suggests that the occurrence of this condition can be a complex interaction of the genes and the environment. Some suggest that it is caused by an early traumatic event like a bite of a dog, being trapped in a closed space, or being humiliated in public. Hypersensitive individuals may respond differently to stress because of unique chemical reaction in the brain. These people may also be sensitive to caffeine because this substance triggers certain brain chemical responses.
Symptoms of phobias may include the following:
- Fear of specific objects, situations, or activities.
- Often feel stressed or have a panic attack when near the object, activity, or situation.
- Avoidance of the object, situation, or activity is often done.
- Fear and stress often hinders normal activities like studying or working.
Treatment for phobias, like many other weird medical conditions, may vary from one person to another. Mental health specialists find phobias to be the most treatable among the menagerie of mental illnesses. Once treated patients may continue to live normal lives. Professional help is oftentimes not required for certain phobias that are easily avoidable and do not really hamper activities of daily living. On the other hand, if a certain phobia already causes a person to not live normally, a combination of medication and psychotherapy may be prescribed. Popular psychiatric drugs like antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications are proven to be effective in majority of the cases. Fear and panic are found to be reduced when these drugs are taken. However, drug dependence may develop when these medications are taken on a long term basis.
A supportive relationship with a health professional, family members, and friends is essential in treating phobias and other weird medical conditions. In many types of phobias, some symptoms might be relieved by observing a healthy diet and an active lifestyle. Ditching caffeine, curbing alcohol intake, having regular exercise, and eliminating or reducing stress are fundamental in relieving symptoms of certain phobias. To date, phobias are still considered to be among the weird medical conditions until such time that their exact causes are determined.