A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder. It is a strong, irrational fear of something that poses little or no actual danger. There are many specific phobias. Acrophobia is a fear of heights. You may be able to ski the world's tallest mountains but be unable to go above the 5th floor of an office building. Agoraphobia is a fear of public places, and claustrophobia is a fear of closed-in places. If you become anxious and extremely self-conscious in everyday social situations, you could have a social phobia. Other common phobias involve tunnels, highway driving, water, flying, animals and blood.
People with phobias try to avoid what they are afraid of. If they cannot, they may experience:
- Panic and fear
- Rapid heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- A strong desire to get away
Treatment helps most people with phobias. Options include medicines, therapy or both.