Fear. None of us are immune to it. Whether our fears are ‘justifiable’ or a manifestation of trauma varies from person to person and situation to situation.
But, whatever the root cause may be, people all over the world have the same fears for the same reasons.
Fear isn’t bad. It’s a normal response to potential harm that’s designed by nature to keep ourselves safe. Fear literally keeps us alive.
However, when you experience a debilitating fear of a trigger that you encounter during your daily routine, this could denote your fear has turned into a phobia.
Here are some of the most common fears and phobias shared by many around the globe.
Most people have had vertigo at one time or another, but people with a fear of heights know better than most just how unnerving it is.
If you freak out on a rooftop (no Empire State Building for me, thanks) or get nauseous looking up at a skyscraper, you’re certainly not alone. Fear of heights is among the most common phobias plaguing humanity with an estimated 3 percent to 5 percent of the population suffering from acrophobia.
Acrophobia is no joke. This debilitating fear causes panic attacks and the studious avoidance of high places. People with this phobia will go above and beyond to avoid triggers like bridges or tall buildings.
For some people, a fear of heights could be the aftermath of a traumatic experience, but current research reveals that this fear may have organically developed as a survival technique in an environment where falling from a great height posed a very real danger.
Fun fact: everything isn’t relative in regard to a fear of heights. Someone with acrophobia could be equally horrified from a mountain summit, going down an escalator, or standing on the top of a ladder.
2) Going to the dentist
Most people don’t get stoked at the idea of cozying up in the dentist chair for an extended session of plaque removal. I know I’d almost rather have my eyeballs scooped out with soup spoons than go to the dentist.
Not surprisingly, between 9 percent and 20 percent of Americans admit that they avoid going to the dentist because of their intense anxiety or fear surrounding the experience.
Having a full-blown dental phobia can be seriously detrimental to your health. These are the folks who avoid the dentist like the plague and can only be coerced into going by excruciating pain.
Relatable. Definitely relatable.
I had to be chased around the car until I was apprehended and forced in the chair to have my wisdom teeth pulled. But the dentist gave me a purple elephant from the toy chest for being such a brave girl, so it was all good.
I was 32 at the time. Yeah, laugh it up.
Big storms can mean a heart-pounding meltdown for people suffering from severe weather phobia. In fact, some even pack up and move to regions known for calm weather.
Some people with this disorder go to great lengths to hide from any severe weather event. You’ll find them under the bed or cowering in the closet for the duration.
It’s easy for people with this phobia to develop an unhealthy preoccupation with the weather. They spend more time tracking the latest cold front than your local meteorologist. They’re probably more accurate as well.
I said what I said.
This phobia can be so pronounced that some sufferers develop agoraphobia. People become so terrified of getting caught in a storm that they’re unable to venture from their homes.
There’s probably a lot more people who have severe weather phobia than we assume. A lot of the folks with this fear admitted they find it embarrassing so they didn’t share it with anybody.
To combat this fear, you need social support and accurate weather information. Learning how to navigate your way through anxiety and panic will help you find a middle ground where you can take reasonable safety measures without your fear debilitating you.
Dogs may be man’s best friend, but they also trigger fear in many people.
The fear of dogs is usually caused by personal experiences like a dog bite during childhood. Understandably, this can prove quite traumatic to a child and ignite fear responses that can last into adulthood.
Cynophobia isn’t just a reticence around unfamiliar dogs; it’s an excessive fear response that can seriously impact a person’s mobility in life.
For example, a cynophobic individual might refuse to walk down a particular street because they’re aware that a dog lives in that area.
This avoidance can negatively affect your ability to function and make it hard to get around and do the things you need to do outside your home.
5) Tight spaces
The fear of enclosed spaces, also known as claustrophobia, plagues most people to some degree. Elevators are a great example of something that sparks everything from unease to terror in people.
Then there are approximately 1.8 million American adults that suffer from agoraphobia, which is intense fear and anxiety caused by any environment or situation where escape is unlikely.
Commonly feared spots and activities includes: concerts, driving, airplanes bridges, public transportation, and malls. This fear can be overwhelming and cause a person to avoid leaving home, especially if it involves traveling by car or being in a crowd.
Arachnophobia is defined as the intense fear of spiders and other arachnids. The sight of a spider can obviously elicit a fear response, but sometimes just a picture of a spider or even just thinking about one can ignite overwhelming fear and panic.
But why are so many people terrified of arachnids anyway? Out of approximately 35,000 species, only a dozen or so pose a real threat to humans. So why the freak-outs?
It’s purported that gross, crawly things posed a serious threat to our ancestors in a time lacking the medical knowledge needed to treat bites from animals and insects.
So, as a result, evolution gave human beings a predisposition to fear them. Makes sense.
Plus all those legs are just … shudder.
I’m going to admit right up front that I’ve never been on an airplane, and I never will. It involves way too many nightmare scenarios for me at once: claustrophobia, fear of heights, and an aversion to fiery death.
I’m told we generally fall into two distinct and evenly split camps: those who fear perishing in a plane crash and those who are claustrophobic and risk having a full-blown panic attack in a plane’s tight quarters.
Some of us are over-achievers and won’t step on a plane for both of those reasons, and many more.
So, did your favorite make the list?
The National Institute of Mental Health suggests that phobias affect approximately 10% of adults in the U.S. annually. These extreme fears usually manifest during childhood or adolescence and often last into adulthood. They can have a massive negative impact on the sufferer’s daily life.
There are various theories regarding why phobias develop, including evolutionary and behavioral reasons. Whatever the root cause is, phobias are treatable and can be minimized, and sometimes even eradicated, with treatment including cognitive and behavioral therapy techniques.
Because you have nothing to fear but dentists, heights, spiders, airplanes, and fear itself.