People with specific phobias, or strong irrational fear reactions, work hard to avoid common places, situations, or objects even though they know there’s no threat or danger. The fear may not make any sense, but they feel powerless to stop it. Having phobias can disrupt daily routines, limit work efficiency, reduce self-esteem, and place a strain on relationships because people will do whatever they can to avoid the uncomfortable and often-terrifying feelings of phobic anxiety.
Specific phobias commonly focus on animals, insects, germs, heights, thunder, driving, public transportation, flying, dental or medical procedures, and elevators.
Symptoms of having a specific phobia often include uncomfortable and terrifying feelings of anxiety:
- a feeling of imminent danger or doom
- the need to escape
- heart palpitations
- shortness of breath or a smothering feeling
- a feeling of choking
- chest pain or discomfort
- nausea or abdominal discomfort
- feeling faint, dizzy or lightheaded
- a sense of things being unreal, depersonalization
- a fear of losing control or “going crazy”
- a fear of dying
- tingling sensation
- chills or heat flush