Phobias can feel different for different people and the symptoms can vary in severity. Symptoms involve experiencing intense fear and anxiety when faced with the situation or object that you are afraid of. If your phobia is severe, even thinking about the situation or object can trigger these symptoms.
Common symptoms of a phobia include:
- feeling unsteady, dizzy, lightheaded or faint
- feeling like you are choking
- a pounding heart, palpitations or accelerated heart rate
- chest pain or tightness in the chest
- hot or cold flushes
- shortness of breath or a smothering sensation
- nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea
- numbness or tingling sensations
- trembling or shaking
- feeling out of touch with reality or detached from your body
- a fear of fainting
- a fear of losing control
- a fear of dying
If these symptoms are very intense, they could trigger a panic attack. (See anxiety and panic attacks for more information.)
Experiencing this type of acute fear is extremely unpleasant and can be very frightening. It may make you feel stressed, out of control and overwhelmed. It may also lead to feelings of embarrassment, anxiety or depression.
As a result, many people with phobias avoid situations where they might have to face their fear. While this can be an effective strategy to start with, avoiding your fears can sometimes cause them to become worse, and can start to have a significant impact on how you live your daily life.