Phobic disorders are conditions that involve intense, unreasonable fears of certain situations, circumstances, or objects. They are usually described as persistent, unrealistic, and very distressing. The lives of people who suffer from phobic disorders are often impacted by their fears. Examples include the fear of heights, known as acrophobia, and the fear of water, known as hydrophobia.
Agoraphobia is the fear of being trapped in a place or situation without a means of escape. People suffering from a disorder in this class may be afraid to use public transportation or to sit in a movie theater. If this disorder becomes severe, the sufferer may refuse to leave home.
Social phobic disorders are generally classified as agoraphobia. Social phobias pertain to people who become scared or anxious about social settings at work, school, or among their families and friends. These problems go beyond simply getting nervous around people. Many of those with phobic disorders in this category will go to extreme measures to avoid important social settings such as a family wedding or a presentation at work.
Avoidant personality disorder is often associated with this group. People who suffer with these conditions tend to be extremely sensitive. It is generally noted that they desire love and affection, but they have a deep fear of disappointment and criticism. These people may suffer anxiety over whether their actions or behaviors are appropriate. The effects can become physical and include vomiting, trembling, and sweating.
Social phobic disorder may be treated with antidepressants or beta-blockers, which can reduce the heart rate and sweating. Exposure therapy is also used to help people with these conditions. This behavior treatment involves putting the sufferer in circumstances similar to those that trigger the phobia. If, for example, a person has a fear of public speaking, she may be asked to read to children at an orphanage.
Specific phobias generally refer to a group of irrational fears of specific items or situations. Phobias in this group include fear of animals, referred to as zoophobia, and the fear of water, referred to as hydrophobia. Specific phobias tend to compose the most common anxiety disorders.
People can often manage specific phobias by avoiding whatever it is that they fear. A person who has a fear of asparagus, known as spargarophobia, may simply avoid buying it or shopping in the area of a store where it is sold. In some cases, treatment is sought. Various methods of therapy may be used to help a person. Medication is generally not a prescribed course of action because drugs are unlikely to help a person overcome fears permanently.
Aviophobia is the fear of flying. Trypanophobia is the fear of injections. Avoiding the stimulus may not always be possible for people who suffer from these sorts of phobic disorders. In these cases, a physician may prescribe anti-anxiety drugs, which will give the person some degree of short-term control over the problem.