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Common Types Of Phobias And What Causes Them

Common Types Of Phobias And What Causes Them

WARNING: Photos may be triggering for people who suffer from a fear of heights, flying, and lightning.

Fear is an extremely common and very human emotion. However, some individuals go through persistent, overwhelming fear of certain objects or situations. This is known as a phobia. What are the common types of phobias? What are the symptoms of phobias? Read on to find out.

What is phobia?

A phobia is an anxiety disorder that causes a person to feel persistent, irrational fear of a particular person, animal, object, activity, or situation. People with phobias experience intense fear towards objects or situations that may or may not harm them. This kind of fear is so intense that it can disrupt a person’s way of life and/or damage relationships.

There are three main groups of phobias, namely:

Specific or simple phobia

This type of phobia is the immense fear of a specific object or situation that often poses little to no danger. People with a specific phobia are aware that their reaction to a particular thing is unreasonable. However, their fear is stimulated by merely thinking about being in a situation where the phobia trigger is present.

Specific phobias are long-lasting and can cause physical and psychological stress to a person. Common examples of specific phobias are the fear of snakes, dogs, thunderstorms, lightning, and flying on a plane.

Social phobia or social anxiety disorder

A person with a social anxiety disorder or social phobia has an extreme fear of being humiliated, embarrassed, negatively judged, or rejected by society.

An individual will most likely develop social phobia due to low-self esteem and a strong sense of inferiority, which makes them feel that they are worthless as compared to others. A common example of a social phobia is the fear of speaking in public.


Agoraphobia is a type of phobia is a fear of being in places or situations that a person deems unsafe. People with agoraphobia experience panic attacks whenever they are in public places that they consider difficult to get away from. It also triggers panic attacks whenever a person feels trapped or vulnerable. People with extreme cases of agoraphobia often lock themselves at home and refuse to go outside due to fear.

What Anxiety Means and What You Can Do About It

What are the common types of phobias?

Here are five of the most common types of phobias you should be aware of:


Arachnophobia is the intense fear of arachnids, especially spiders. The immense anxiety and panic that arachnophobes experiences are triggered by the sight of a spider or a spider web (as a photo or in real life) or thoughts about spiders.

Experts say that the fear of spiders stems from the time when humans did not know how to cure venomous spider bites. Thus, arachnophobia is a product of human survival instincts. Also, traumatic experiences like enduring a spider bite can result in arachnophobia.

Exposure therapy, wherein patients are brought into contact with spiders or are shown photos of spiders, is the most common treatment for this type of phobia.


Acrophobia is one of the most common types of phobias. It refers to an extreme fear of heights that leads to severe anxiety and panic attacks. Because of their fear of heights, acrophobes find it torturous to stand in high places like hills and cliffs.

Simple activities such as escalator and elevator rides can also frighten someone with acrophobia. In severe cases, acrophobes go to great lengths to avoid crossing bridges and being atop skyscrapers and towers, as these can cause them to tremble, palpitate, and feel sick.

Acrophobia develops due to distressing occurrences in the past, such as falling from a high place or seeing someone plummet from the top of a building. Fear of heights is commonly associated with fear of falling or basophobia and can be treated with cognitive behavioral therapy.


Trypanophobia is the extreme fear of medical procedures that involve injections or needles. This type of phobia can cause a person to experience an abnormal increase in heart rate, panic attacks, and aggressiveness when faced with the possibility of requiring medical treatment with a syringe.

On some occasions, trypanophobia can trigger someone to pass out during injection procedures like vaccinations and phlebotomy. As a result, individuals with trypanophobia avoid any medical treatments that need injections or needles to the point where it can be harmful to their health.

This aversion to injections and needles can be dangerous to individuals with chronic conditions that require self-injection, such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Exposure therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and medications are the treatments that doctors use to address trypanophobia.


Aerophobia, or fear of flying, is a type of phobia that can trigger severe anxiety, nausea, and heart palpitations. The thought of getting in a plane, preparing for a flight, or being on the flight is enough to trigger aerophobia. This type of phobia often results from watching programs that show terrifying plane incidents and crashes.

Most of the time, a person with aerophobia will avoid any circumstances that involve sitting through a flight like vacations and business trips. As a result, they often miss great professional opportunities or life experiences.

Exposure therapy is the best treatment in addressing aerophobia. It involves slowly introducing or reintroducing the idea of flying to people who fear it.


Astraphobia is an extreme fear of thunder and lightning. Although this type of phobia affects anyone at any age, it is still more common in children than adults. While most people who have astraphobia during childhood outgrow it, some maintain it even in adulthood.

A person with astraphobia experiences many of the same symptoms as other common phobias, such as trembling, heart palpitations, and breathlessness. Astraphobia may also lead to agoraphobia, as being afraid of thunder and lightning can prevent people from leaving their homes from fear of a sudden storm. This may prevent people from collecting necessary provisions during inclement weather or from evacuating their homes during typhoons, hurricanes, and floods.

Common treatments that help people with astraphobia are cognitive-behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, and anti-anxiety medications.

What are the symptoms of phobias?

The following are common symptoms of phobias:

  • Severe episodes of anxiety and panic attacks
  • Rapid heart rate and pain or tightness in the chest
  • Breathlessness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Quivering
  • Nausea and lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Disorientation
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Chills or hot flashes

Unique Types of Phobias That You Probably Never Heard of

Key takeaways

Fear is a very human experience, and a person with a phobia can feel helpless and desperate whenever their phobia triggers are present. This is why we must always remember that seemingly small things can hugely impact others and to reach out to those who suffer from the symptoms of phobias.

Learn more about Phobias, here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Phobias https://www.mhanational.org/conditions/phobias Accessed November 9, 2020

Phobias in Children https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=phobias-in-children-and-adolescents-90-P01639 Accessed November 9, 2020

Phobia https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/phobia-a-to-z Accessed November 9, 2020

Anxiety and Phobias https://www.anxiety.org/phobias Accessed November 9, 2020

Arachnophobia: Fear of Spiders and How to Overcome It https://www.psycom.net/arachnophobia-fear-of-spiders Accessed November 9, 2020

Acrophobia or Why are Some People are Afraid of Heights https://psychlopaedia.org/health/republished/health-check-why-are-some-people-afraid-of-heights/ Accessed November 9, 2020

Trypanophobia: Helping Patients Deal with Fear of Needles https://www.pharmacytimes.com/publications/specialty-pharmacy-times/2014/april-2014/trypanophobia-helping-patients-deal-with-fear-of-needles Accessed November 9, 2020

10 of the Most Common Phobias https://www.verywellmind.com/most-common-phobias-4136563 Accessed November 9, 2020

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Written by Mayvilyn Cabigao Updated Nov 17, 2020
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel