Common Types of Phobias

While hundreds of specific phobias have been identified, below are some of the most common categories and types of phobias:

Fear of Open or Confined Spaces and Related Phobias

Agoraphobia: Fear of Anxiety in Public Places – Agoraphobia is a fear of intense anxiety or of having a panic attack in public places where getting help or escape might be difficult. As a result, you may start to avoid places where you have previously experienced anxiety or panic sensations, such as restaurants, malls, grocery stores, driving, airplanes and other public places.

Claustrophobia: Fear of Being Confined in a Small Space – Claustrophobia may encompass a fear of restriction and suffocation. If you suffer from claustrophobia, you may fear restriction in certain areas, like elevators, airplanes or closets. However, you may not necessarily be afraid of these areas themselves, but, rather, you fear what could happen to you when you are confined in that area. You may fear suffocation, believing that there will be a lack of air, leading to severe panic attacks.

Acrophobia: Fear of Heights – Acrophobia is an excessive, generalized fear of all heights and manifests as severe anxiety. A person could have an attack just walking up stairs or climbing a ladder. An anxiety attack can make it extremely difficult to safely get down from whatever high place triggered the attack. Unlike a lot of fears, this fear can manifest into other fears, such as a fear of flying, riding an elevator, crossing a bridge, or riding a roller coaster.

Aerophobia: Fear of Flying – The fear of flying may be created by other phobias such as a fear of crashing, fear of being enclosed in the airplane cabin (claustrophobia), fear of heights (acrophobia), feeling of not being in control, fear of vomiting due to motion sickness, fear of getting sick on the airplane without help available, fear of having a panic attack on the airplane and being unable to get off (agoraphobia), fear of hijacking or terrorism, fear of turbulence or a fear of flying over water or night flying.

Animal Fears

Zoophobia: Fear of Animals – The most common type of specific phobia is zoophobia or fear of animals. Zoophobia is actually a generic term that encompasses a group of phobias involving specific animals. Such phobias often develop in childhood and sometimes go away as the child ages. But they can persist into adulthood.

Arachnophobia: Fear of Spiders – People with a fear of spiders tend to feel uneasy in any place where they might see a spider or that has visible signs of their presence, such as spider webs. Many people who have this fear are typically affected by a childhood memory, or are just frightened by the appearance. In the dark ages, spiders were thought to harbor the bubonic plague and were seen as a source of food and water contamination, leading to a widespread fear of spiders.

Cynophobia: Fear of Dogs – A fear of dogs is most commonly caused by a negative experience with a dog, especially during childhood. For example, you may have been jumped on by an overexcited puppy or growled at by a dog, Even without a direct experience, you may have developed a fear of dogs due to a parental warning about approaching strange dogs or hearing about a friend or relative being attacked by a dog.

Ophidiophobia: Fear of Snakes – Ophidiophobia is a fear of snakes. Some experts believe the fear of snakes may be an innate survival mechanism to protect people from poisonous reptiles. This phobia can cause people to avoid places like zoos or pet stores.

Ornithophobia: Fear of Birds – Some people fear only birds of prey, such as vultures, while others are afraid of even household pets like parakeets. If you suffer from ornithophobia, you might fear that you will be attacked by a bird or you may simply be uncomfortable around them.

Phobias related to the Body or Bodily Sensations

Emetophobia: Fear of Vomiting – Emetophobia is an excessive fear of vomiting that typically starts in childhood following traumatic experiences of vomiting or seeing others vomit. The anxiety can be triggered by thoughts of vomiting and can lead to behaviors such checking food expiration dates, avoiding alcohol, avoiding certain foods, or choosing not to have children.

Pseudodysphagia: Fear of Choking – People with pseudodysphagia often have difficulty eating solid foods. Anxiety and tension cause throat muscles to constrict, ironically increasing the chance of choking. Many people find that excessive chewing and swallowing each bite with a large sip of liquid ease their symptoms. Fear of choking may also result in a fear of going to the dentist.

Medical Phobias

Dentophobia: Fear of Dentists – People with dentophobia may have had a bad experience with a particular dentist, they may worry about experiencing pain, may be afraid of numbness, gagging or choking during a procedure, they may not like the sounds or smells associated with the dentist’s office or they may have a needle phobia.

Hemophobia: Fear of Blood – Most types of specific phobia cause the heart rate and blood pressure to rise, which is incompatible with fainting. However, hemophobia and other blood-injection-injury phobias frequently cause a drop in blood pressure and heart rate. The sudden drop can lead to fainting, a relatively common response to the sight of blood.

Iatrophobia: Fear of Doctors – Iatrophobia could cause you to fear of any person who performs surgery, administers shots, gives medical diagnostics or any others in the medical field. Iatrophobia could result in someone delaying or not receiving the medical treatment they need.

Trypanophobia: Fear of Injections – Trypanophobia is an extreme fear of medical procedures involving injections or hypodermic needles. It may also be related to a more general fear of sharply pointed objects. Needle phobia may be genetic and have some basis in evolution, given that thousands of years ago humans who meticulously avoided stab wounds and other incidences of pierced flesh would have a greater chance of survival.

Phobias involving Illness or Disease

Carcinophobia: Fear of Cancer – People with carcinophobia or cancerophobia live with an irrational dread of developing cancer. Every bodily discomfort becomes a sign for them that they have a malignant growth somewhere inside. A headache, for instance, is a sign for them that they have a brain tumor.

Nosophobia: Fear of Having a Disease – Nosophobia is the irrational fear of developing a specific disease. Hypochondriasis is a related disorder marked by the persistent fear of having an unspecified disease. Sufferers of either disorder may become frequent visitors of the doctor’s office, or may instead develop an avoidance of doctors for fear of hearing bad news.

Necrophobia: Fear of Death – Necrophobia is the fear of death or dead things. This is a very common fear, especially after the loss of a loved one. This fear is a sort of defense mechanism of the mind. This can also be a very difficult phobia to overcome because of the uncertainty surrounding death and the large faith component associated with death and dying.

Other Phobias

Aquaphobia: Fear of Water – Aquaphobia is an abnormal and persistent fear of water that is beyond the the person control or that may interfere with daily life. They may avoid such activities as boating and swimming, or they may avoid swimming in the deep ocean despite having mastered basic swimming skills. This anxiety commonly extends to getting wet or splashed with water when it is unexpected, or being pushed or thrown into a body of water.

Coulrophobia: Fear of Clowns – Many people develop this fear as children, though this isn’t always the case. Clowns are often portrayed in media as bad, such as in the move “It”, or in real life as was the case with serial killer John Wayne Gacy who dressed up like a clown. This can trigger a phobia in some people.

Mysophobia: Fear of Germs – This is an intense fear of becoming contaminated by germs. It is related to obsessive-compulsive disorder, which is often marked by repetitive hand-washing. However, for OCD sufferers the focus is on the act of hand-washing itself, while mysophobia sufferers wash hands to remove the contamination.

Nyctophobia: Fear of the Dark – This fear is common and generally transient in children. If it persists for longer than six months and causes extreme anxiety, however, it may be diagnosed as a phobia. It is less common in adults.

Paranormal Fears – Some phobias sound like they belong on the chiller channel on cable TV. Triskaidekaphobia is an abnormal fear of anything related to the number 13. If the thought of ghosts makes you overly anxious, you may have phasmophobia. And despite the fact that vampires aren’t real, some people are terrified of bats. Their phobia is called chiroptophobia.

There are literally hundreds of phobias. See the phobia list for an even more comprehensive list of phobias.