What are you scared of?Are you scared of anything? Perhaps snakes, or heights, or maybe you get stagefright? It is called a phobia when you have an intense, irrational fear of a situation or object that causes extreme anxiety and often panic attacks. Specific phobias, for example aerophobia (fear of flying), affect around one in ten people. Phobias about animals, for example arachnophobia (fear of spiders), usually start between the ages of 3 and 8.
Can phobias be cured?
Phobias often result from a single traumatic experience, such as being chased by a dog as a child. The person tends to avoid the thing they're scared of, so the phobia persists. Phobias can be cured by gradually helping the person to confront the situation they are afraid of. These programmes used to take weeks, or even months. But new research suggests that some phobias can be overcome far more quickly.
What are complex phobias?
Agoraphobia is a fear of open spaces or busy public places (literally a 'fear of market places'). Some people are so badly affected they become housebound. Claustrophobia is a fear of enclosed spaces, like crowded trains or lifts. Social phobia is a fear of embarrassing yourself in front of other people - at parties, or when eating or speaking in public, for example. Agoraphobia affects twice as many women as men, whereas social phobia affects men and women almost equally.