Do you have an overwhelming fear of spiders, snakes or dogs? Do you fly into a panic when driving over bridges? Do you avoid going to the doctors because of your fear of needles? Do you faint at the sight of blood?
A phobia can be defined as an irrational fear of an object, place, situation, feeling or animal. Phobias can lead to overwhelming feelings of fear and dread, causing sufferers to avoid certain situations.
It is thought that about 9% of the population have a phobia, and some people have more than one.
There are a number of reasons as to why a phobia might develop. These include:
- Childhood experience – very often phobias develop because of an upsetting experience as a child
- Learnt behaviour – We sometimes develop phobias if we see other members of our family displaying a phobic response.
- Genetics and biology – fears and anxieties can be passed through our genes