Common and Unique Phobias Explained

Phobias are one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH), approximately 12.5% of adults in the U.S. will deal with a specific phobia in their lifetime.1 Women are more likely to experience phobias than men. Typical symptoms of phobias can include nausea, trembling, rapid heartbeat, feelings of unreality, and being preoccupied with the fear object.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) identifies three different categories of phobias: social phobias, agoraphobia, and specific phobias.2 When people talk about having a phobia of a specific object such as snakes, spiders, or needles, they are referring to a specific phobia.

While not comprehensive, this list of phobias offers a glimpse of the many phobias that can have a serious impact on a person’s life. As you may notice while you browse through this list, most specific phobias fall into one of four major categories:3

  • Fears of the natural environment
  • Fears related to animals
  • Fear related to medical treatments or issues
  • Fears related to specific situations

One important thing to remember is that virtually any object can become a fear object. The names of specific phobias are often formed as nonce words, or words coined for a single occasion only.

These names themselves are often formed by taking a Greek prefix that represents the fear object and adding the -phobia suffix. Because of this, any attempt at a completely exhaustive list of phobias would be a futile exercise. Any list of phobias could grow with the addition of newly coined terms for previously unnamed specific phobias.

A–Z List of Some of the More Common Phobias

A

  • Achluophobia: Fear of darkness
  • Acrophobia: Fear of heights
  • Aerop<strong>Aerophobia</strong>: Fear of flyinghobia: Fear of flying
  • Algophobia: Fear of pain
  • Agoraphobia: Fear of open spaces or crowds
  • Aichmophobia: Fear of needles or pointed objects
  • Amaxophobia: Fear of riding in a car
  • Androphobia: Fear of men
  • Anginophobia: Fear of angina or choking
  • Anthrophobia: Fear of flowers
  • Anthropophobia: Fear of people or society
  • Aphenphosmphobia: Fear of being touched
  • Arachibutyrophobia: Fear of peanut butter
  • Arachnophobia: Fear of spiders
  • Arithmophobia: Fear of numbers
  • Astraphobia: Fear of thunder and lightning
  • Ataxophobia: Fear of disorder or untidiness
  • Atelophobia: Fear of imperfection
  • Atychiphobia: Fear of failure
  • Automatonophobia: Fear of human-like figures
  • Autophobia: Fear of being alone

B

  • Bacteriophobia: Fear of bacteria
  • Barophobia: Fear of gravity
  • Bathmophobia: Fear of stairs or steep slopes
  • Batrachophobia: Fear of amphibians
  • Belonephobia: Fear of pins and needles
  • Bibliophobia: Fear of books
  • Botanophobia: Fear of plants

C

  • Cacophobia: Fear of ugliness
  • Catagelophobia: Fear of being ridiculed
  • Catoptrophobia: Fear of mirrors
  • Chionophobia: Fear of snow
  • Chromophobia: Fear of colors
  • Chronomentrophobia: Fear of clocks
  • Chronophobia: Fear of time
  • Claustrophobia: Fear of confined spaces
  • Coulrophobia: Fear of clowns
  • Cyberphobia: Fear of computers
  • Cynophobia: Fear of dogs

D

  • Decidophobia: Fear of making decisions
  • Dendrophobia: Fear of trees
  • Dentophobia: Fear of dentists
  • Domatophobia: Fear of houses
  • Dystychiphobia: Fear of accidents

E

  • Ecophobia: Fear of the home
  • Elurophobia: Fear of cats
  • Entomophobia: Fear of insects
  • Ephebiphobia: Fear of teenagers
  • Equinophobia: Fear of horses

G

  • Gamophobia: Fear of marriage
  • Genuphobia: Fear of knees
  • Glossophobia: Fear of speaking in public
  • Gynophobia: Fear of women

H

  • Haphephobia: Fear of touch
  • Heliophobia: Fear of the sun
  • Hemophobia: Fear of blood
  • Herpetophobia: Fear of reptiles
  • Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia: Fear of long words
  • Hydrophobia: Fear of water
  • Hypochondria: Fear of illness

I

  • Iatrophobia: Fear of doctors
  • Insectophobia: Fear of insects

K

  • Koinoniphobia: Fear of rooms
  • Koumpounophobia: Fear of buttons

L

  • Leukophobia: Fear of the color white
  • Lilapsophobia: Fear of tornadoes and hurricanes
  • Lockiophobia: Fear of childbirth

M

  • Mageirocophobia: Fear of cooking
  • Megalophobia: Fear of large things
  • Melanophobia: Fear of the color black
  • Microphobia: Fear of small things
  • Mysophobia: Fear of dirt and germs

N

  • Necrophobia: Fear of death or dead things
  • Noctiphobia: Fear of the night
  • Nosocomephobia: Fear of hospitals
  • Nyctophobia: Fear of the dark

O

  • Obesophobia: Fear of gaining weight
  • Octophobia: Fear of the figure 8
  • Ombrophobia: Fear of rain
  • Ophidiophobia: Fear of snakes
  • Ornithophobia: Fear of birds

P

  • Papyrophobia: Fear of paper
  • Pathophobia: Fear of disease
  • Pedophobia: Fear of children
  • Philematophobia: Fear of kissing
  • Philophobia: Fear of love
  • Phobophobia: Fear of phobias
  • Podophobia: Fear of feet
  • Porphyrophobia: Fear of the color purple
  • Pteridophobia: Fear of ferns
  • Pteromerhanophobia: Fear of flying
  • Pyrophobia: Fear of fire

S

  • Samhainophobia: Fear of Halloween
  • Scolionophobia: Fear of school
  • Scoptophobia: Fear of being stared at
  • Selenophobia: Fear of the moon
  • Sociophobia: Fear of social evaluation
  • Somniphobia: Fear of sleep

T

  • Tachophobia: Fear of speed
  • Technophobia: Fear of technology
  • Tonitrophobia: Fear of thunder
  • Trypanophobia: Fear of needles/injections
  • Trypophobia: Fear of holes

V-Z

  • Venustraphobia: Fear of beautiful women
  • Verminophobia: Fear of germs
  • Wiccaphobia: Fear of witches and witchcraft
  • Xenophobia: Fear of strangers or foreigners
  • Zoophobia: Fear of animals

Recap

While listing all of the phobias that may exist is not possible, it can be helpful to look through a list of some of the more commonly described phobias. As you can see by looking at this list, almost any object or situation can become the source of fear.

Treatment for Phobias

While phobias can be distressing and create disruptions in your life, they are treatable. Some of the different treatment options include therapy and medication.

Exposure Therapy

Exposure-based treatments are the first-line approach in the treatment of phobias. In this type of treatment, you are gradually and progressively exposed to what you fear. You might start by just thinking about your phobia trigger and then move slowly toward looking at images of the object and finally being near the object in real life.

Types of exposure-based treatments that may be used include:4

  • In vivo exposure: This involves being exposed to the source of your fear in real life.
  • Virtual exposure: This involves the use of virtual reality to practice gradual exposure.
  • Systematic desensitization: This involves being gradually exposed until you become desensitized to the source of your fear.

During this process, you’ll also practice relaxation techniques to help calm your body when your fear response kicks in.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Often referred to as CBT, cognitive behaviorial therapy involves learning to identify the underlying negative thoughts that contribute to feelings of fear. Once you become better at noticing these thoughts, you can then work on replacing them with more positive, helpful thoughts.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing 

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy utilizes rhythmic eye movements to help people process and recover from traumatic experiences. It is frequently used in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but can also be effective in the treatment of a variety of other mental health conditions including phobias.5 

Medications

Medications may be prescribed in some cases to help manage some of the symptoms you might be experiencing as a result of your phobia. Medications your doctor might prescribe include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), beta-blockers, and anti-anxiety drugs.

Phobias can have a serious impact on well-being, but it is important to remember that you are not alone. Phobias are common and treatable. If you believe that you have the symptoms of some type of phobia, consult a doctor for further evaluation and treatment advice. 

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