What is a phobia?
A phobia is an irrational fear of something ranging from fear of clowns to fear of walking down certain streets. To classify as a phobia the fear cannot be considered normal such as fear of dangerous animals approaching. It must be a fear that most people consider normal such as walking down the street.
This phobia is so strong that people panic when approaching the object or situation. The phobia must also negatively affect the person’s life. For example, a person may walk up 20 flights of stairs because their fear of elevators and escalators.
According to National Institute of Mental Health 10 percent of Americans can suffer from some type of phobia. More women suffer from phobias then do men. http://psychology.about.com/od/phobias/p/commonphobias.htm
According to MedicalNewstoda there are three main categories of phobias:
Specific phobias (simple phobias) - involve a disproportionate fear about specific situations, living creatures, places, activities, or things. Examples include a fear of:
These phobias are deeply rooted in a fear that of certain conditions, situations or instances.
Social phobia - now called social anxiety disorder is a debilitating fear of being in any kind of social situation; for example going to a party or just mingling with friends, to public speaking. Social-phobics are extremely embarrassed or fear that they will be judged in some way. The basic fear is the fear of being judged. It is often prominent among students who have to prepare a presentation. However social-phobics suffer from a fear of not being accepted because of their mannerisms, social graces, choice of clothing, the way they speak, their intelligence and so on.
Psychologists maintain that social phobia germinates in the teenager years. Because the fear is so intense, social phobia often causes clinical depression.
Note that social phobia or social anxiety disorder is not a mere case of shyness.
Agoraphobics are individuals who feel trapped in certain places. They avoid situations such as buses, subways, or desperate situations when they feel they will not get help. Like social phobics they don’t go out and avoid people as much as possible. They may find it totally unbearable to leave their home even to walk down the pathway to pick up their mail. They are at risk for developing panic disorder.
Many agoraphobics also suffer from claustrophobia which is a fear of being trapped in closed or confined spaces. Many claustrophobics avoid crowds because of feeling confined.