Last Updated : 2019-07-23 11:12:00

Drawing the line between fear and phobia

19 January 2018 02:04 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}



Fear, is a very common feeling everyone of us experiences at some point in our lives. it is defined as an emotional response to a real or perceived threat. It is not abnormal to feel little anxious when doing certain activities in our day-to-day lives, like walking on a bridge, looking down a hill or sitting next to a chair with a spider on its arm. For most of the people, these episodes of fearful sensations are temporary and easily handled. And more importantly they do not need medical help for sure.  

Phobia is a form of anxiety disorder which refers to excessive and persistent fear of objects and situations which do not carry real threats. Phobia is associated with a strong character of anxiety which is intense enough to interfere ones day-to-day activities and the quality of life. Unfortunately, they are permanent and very difficult to be handled until being treated.   

The etiology of phobias is known to be linked with genes, gender, brain chemicals, bad childhood memories and traumatic events in the past or particularly during childhood.  

Phobias are categorized into 3 main entities namely, specific phobia, social phobia and agoraphobia. Specific phobia refers to the fright one develops related to a specific object or situation like dogs, spiders, snakes, elevators, heights etc. Few of the well-known specific phobias are named as, Acrophobia, the fear of heights, Aviophobia, the fear of flying and Arachnophobia- the fear of spiders. Some phobias are very common while some are rarely heard of, but whatever it is, the affected person spends a life filled with fear and anxiety.  

Social phobia, which comes under anxiety disorders mainly includes, people who are reluctant to interact with the society. They would not avoid crowds, but try their best to stay away from conversations and interactive behaviours with others.  

Agoraphobia, which refers to people who fear leaving their familiar territory, find it very uncomfortable to remain with an unfamiliar crowd, since it is a nightmare for them to think of becoming helpless in case of a panic attack or medical emergency. They rather prefer, staying at home either with a trusted companion or alone.  


Most people might fear being in situations which they are not familiar with. But people with the above mentioned phobias will spend most of their time and energies on worrying about the situations and objects they fear. For an example, many people may fear snakes, but only the minority of them will meet the necessary requirements for it to be called a phobia. For an example, individuals, who are suffering from snake phobia, will spend most of their time worrying about snakes and try their best to avoid situations and activities in which they might come in to contact with serpents.  

For example they will never ever visit the snake section in the zoo. This will result in the reduction of one’s individual performance, efficiency and quality of life. Also, in cases where these people come across the object of fear, they become highly distressed and panic. Tachycardia, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or even panic attacks are some of the negative impacts, documented.   

However, it is highly important to differentiate fear and phobia from one another, since they comprise various qualitatively different issues. In fact fears are nothing much to worry about, but phobias should be dealt with properly since it can impact on one’s life and mentality in hundred and one negative ways.   

Although, there is no exact treatment to overcome fear, phobias should be dealt with carefully since it can result in poor quality of life.   

The main treatment for phobias include, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, where affected individuals are taught and practiced how to manage their fearful feelings during insecure situations and modify their thoughts and attitudes towards those.  

So if you are one of those people who avoids certain things or circumstances due to an irrational-indescribable terror within which makes a negative impact on your quality of life, its high time to seek professional medical care and solve your problem.

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