Find information on phobias, including symptoms, causes and how to access treatment and support. Get tips for helping yourself, plus guidance for friends and family.
These are phobias about a specific object or situation, such as spiders or flying. They often develop in childhood or adolescence. For some people, they might become less severe as they get older.
Some fairly common specific phobias are:
However, your phobia can be a completely unique experience. There are many more specific phobias than those listed above.
If you're afraid of something you have to see or do a lot, this can start to have a serious impact on your everyday life.
If your phobia is about something you don't come into contact with very often, this can sometimes have less of an impact on you.
However, you may still experience fear and anxiety even when the object or situation isn't present. This means that your phobia can still affect you on a daily basis.
If you have social phobia, you will feel a sense of intense fear in social situations. You will often try to avoid them. You might worry about a social event before, during and after it has happened. It is also known as social anxiety or social anxiety disorder.
A lot of people find social situations difficult, or feel shy or awkward at certain times – this is completely normal.
Social phobia however can completely overwhelm you. You might find it very difficult to engage in everyday activities such as:
"I have suffered from phobias since I was three years old and couldn't cope with the social demands of a playgroup. I then went on to suffer from School Phobia right through to my teens, then various phobias surrounding college and work, which led to me becoming unemployed, isolated, agoraphobic and severely depressed."
You might worry about these social situations because you fear that others will judge you negatively. Or maybe you fear that you'll offend others by something you say or do. You may also worry about others noticing that you are anxious.
Social phobia can hugely affect your everyday life. It might:
Many people think that agoraphobia is a fear of open spaces, but it is more complex than this.
Agoraphobia is feeling anxious about being in places or situations:
You're likely to experience high levels of anxiety about everyday situations. You may also try to avoid these situations.
Some examples include:
Having agoraphobia can have a serious impact on the way you live your life. Many people with agoraphobia find it hard to leave the place they live.
Agoraphobia can develop due to various reasons. One example is panic disorder, but not all people with agoraphobia have panic disorder.
Agoraphobia can sometimes develop after a panic attack. You may start to feel extremely anxious and worried about having another one. In turn, you may feel your symptoms returning each time you're in a similar situation.
To manage your anxiety, you may start to avoid that particular place or situation. Avoiding particular situations may help in the short term. But this can affect the way you live your life and may make your phobia worse.
If you experience agoraphobia, it's also common that you might:
This information was published in February 2021. We will revise it in 2024.
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