It is common for people to have fears. However, it becomes a mental disorder when one’s fears are becoming irrational or unfounded. This is when fear becomes a phobia. Phobias or extreme aversion to something at some extent becomes unhealthy to a person’s physical state as well as his social life. For instance, extreme fear of heights called acrophobia make him miss some of the most exciting activities that he could have shared with his friends and family members. This also makes him worry a lot about climbing stairs or even crossing bridges. People suffering from phobias are also subject to ridicule among his friends which may prompt him to isolate himself from the crowd. This could also lead to other mental disorders. To be able to understand people who have phobias, it also makes sense to understand what caused them to fear something in the first place.
Incidence Of Phobias
While phobias are often perceived as a common reaction of a person to certain things and environments, it could get worse to the extent that the person commits suicide or become an emotionally scarred person for life. It is common for serial criminals and delinquents to suffer from a certain phobia and such has been the precursor for their behaviors.
The incidence of phobias in the US alone is quite huge that it has already created an industry for those who are diagnosing and treating phobias. Psychologists and psychiatrists are common health professionals who work with patients suffering from a phobia. If the phobia is in a mild stage, a simple talk with a psychologist can already do the trick. The process might involve facing your fears head on. When your fear becomes worse that it already clouds your reason, the help of a psychiatrist must already be solicited.
According to a survey, almost 15% of the American population suffers from various phobias in their entire lifetime. Agoraphobia, which is a fear of threatening environments and situations like a crowded space has been known to affect 60% of the population; most of which are women.
What Causes A Phobia
Phobias according to experts can be caused by a lot of things. However, there are some phobias which cause cannot be specifically determined. But the most common causes of various phobias can be categorized into the following:
• It Could Be Due To Genetics.
Some experts have determined that some phobias may be caused by genetics. It has been determined that a person suffering from a certain panic disorder or phobia, commonly known as agoraphobia has more likelihood to pass the same condition to his children. First degree relatives are more susceptible to getting the same condition. This means that children can get it from their parents and siblings are more likely to develop the condition when one sibling has already been affected. The chances are higher with twins. When one twin has a phobia, there is 40% likelihood that the other twin will also develop the same or another kind of unfounded fear.
Another possible cause of phobia that can also be related to genetics is the history of the family with other mental conditions. For instance, if a parent has a history of anxiety disorder, his children are more likely to develop anxiety disorders too or a full blown fear of aggressive environments which is a symptom of agoraphobia. Also, even if the cause of the mental disorder among parents is not genetics, (e.g. mental disorder cause by drug abuse) it can still be passed on to children through the parents’ genes.
• Other Mental Conditions Could Develop Into Phobias.
If a person suffers from a mental condition like a panic attack, he has high tendencies of developing certain phobias. Experts would even say that there is a very thin line between phobias and mental conditions. In fact, some would categorize phobias as a mental disorder.
For instance, if a person suffers a panic attack in a big crowd, he might associate his attack with the crowd, citing it as a cause. This leads to agoraphobia. The same can happen when he panics inside an elevator or atop high spaces. Associating height and enclosures/cramped spaces with his panic attacks could lead to the development of full blown phobias – claustrophobia and acrophobia. What causes phobias for the person in this specific example can be clearly determined which is his already prevalent mental condition.
• Phobias May Be Caused By Some Traumatic Events.
It is sad to think that some people develop fears due to traumatic experiences they have gone through in their lives. Experts would even say that these phobias are the victim’s defense mechanisms in order to cope with life after such traumatic events.
For instance, traumatic events can be cited as causes of social phobia in some people aside from genetics and the brain’s structure. An example is a child who has been abducted at a very young age in a crowded area. This experience will prompt him to fear the crowd as he can associate a traumatic event with it. Another is a huge and traumatic embarrassment that will lead him to isolate himself from the crowd or make friends. It is also common for children who have been abused and locked in closed spaces like the closet or cabinets to develop claustrophobia even until they become adults.
• Phobias May Also Be Developed Naturally.
It is common for many kids to be scared of the dark and of monsters. That is normal among them. However, there are children who are more fearful than their peers that they do not outgrow their childhood monsters. This will lead to fears of the dark and tight/closed spaces. Teenagers may also develop specific fears. They will feel awkward and unconfident during this stage which will cause them to have anxiety disorders and fear of being rejected by their peers. If a teenager cannot rise above such situations, he might end up suffering a social phobia.
The types of phobias in this category can easily be avoided and treated. Parents have great roles in making sure their kids outgrow their childhood fears. Remember that the effects of phobias could be devastating to your kid’s health and social life as well as to the entire family.