Most, if not all, people fear something. Sometimes we will never encounter the thing that we fear. For example, living in a city in the UK, a fear of snakes or dangerous spiders is unlikely to cause you any problems. If you live in Sydney however or in rural NSW, the same fear could cause you problems on a daily basis. The more likely you are to experience something you fear then the more problems it is likely to cause you. If you live and work in a city and have a fear of elevators or lifts but need to take the train to work every day and go up 3 floors to your office then you will begin to encounter obstacles and problems and, at the very least, inconvenience.

While we all may become somewhat tense in some situations or when exposed to something we see as dangerous, a phobia tends to be an exaggerated fear of something and people who suffer from them will spend a lot of time avoiding exposure to their phobia and fearing exposure to their phobia. Faced with the thing they fear, they are likely to experience great distress. Around 9% of Australians will experience a phobia at some point in their lives.

The most common childhood phobias are:

Sleeping in the dark
Dogs and spiders
Dirt or germs

The most common phobias that adults in the UK experience are:

Agoraphobia – a fear of wide open spaces, large crowds or uncontrolled areas
Acrophobia – a fear of heights
Aerophobia – a fear of flying
Arachnophobia – a fear of spiders
Brontophobia – a fear of thunder and lightning
Claustrophobia – a fear of being enclosed within a confined space, including lifts and rooms without windows
Emetophobia – a fear of vomiting
Glossophobia – a fear of public speaking
Hemophobia or Hemaphobia or Hematophobia – Fear of blood
Katsaridaphobia – a fear of cockroaches
Mysophobia – a fear of germs and dirt
Social phobia – a fear of interacting in social situations or more generally opening yourself up to public scrutiny

Phobias are generally treated by exposure therapy. The most effective way of overcoming a phobia or lessening its impact is to face the thing you fear. This however is best done one step at a time, at your own pace, beginning with exposure to something less fearful and building up gradually to the thing you fear the most.

Erko Psychology have worked with many people with many different types of phobias, successfully helping them overcome their fears and would be happy to discuss how he might help you. Please contact us for further details.