Fear and Anxiety

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Phobia comes from the Greek word ‘phóbos’ meaning morbid fear (wikipedia). But what exactly is a phobia? The direct denotation of a phobia is “a persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that leads to a compelling desire to avoid it” (dictionary). A phobia falls under the category of an anxiety disorder. An anxiety disorder is often “a harmful chronic condition, which can be present from an early age or begin suddenly after a triggering event. They are prone to flare up at times of high stress and are frequently accompanied by physiological symptoms such as headache, sweating, muscle spasms, palpitations, and hypertension, which in some cases lead to fatigue or even exhaustion” (wikipedia). According to healthline.com, if there is any exposure to the object that is feared, the stimulus may provoke extreme anxiety or a panic attack.”

Phobias are mainly and tend to be caused by a traumatic event or experience that happened prior in a person’s life. Other factors that may increase the likelihood of a phobia developing include cultural factors and possibly even genetics. “Phobias are actually quite common, affecting more than ten percent of the U.S. population. Phobias are the most common mental disorder in the United States, but far more women than men are affected by phobias” (about.com). Approximately six point three million American adults ages eighteen to fifty four, or about four point four percent of people in this age group in a given year, have some type of specific phobia (Heering). This anxiety disorder affects more than one in ten people in the word and they are usually present as a panic attack or a severe episode of anxiety and start during adolescence or adulthood (Frapwell). The percent of people that are diagnosed of having a phobia tend to be constant year to year; there has not been a dramatic increase or decrease over the years.

Phobias can be divided into three main categories: social phobias, agoraphobia, and specific phobias. Social phobias deal with fear of social situations. People who have or had social phobia tend to stay in a solitary environment or just stay home alone where they are most comfortable. This does affect a person’s life because it prevents them from functioning in daily life. People do need to interact with others, especially in need of help. These people do not go to social events or outings because then they would feel like they are in danger and it is more likely that they will have a panic attack. A previous negative social experience can be the trigger to having a social phobia perhaps particularly for individuals who have an intrapersonality. Someone with an intrapersonality tend to stay away from groups and would rather stay and work alone. The cultural factors that have been related to social anxiety disorder include a society's attitude towards shyness and avoidance, affecting someone’s ability to form relationships and access employment or education. One study found that the effects of parenting are different depending on the culture – American children appear more likely to develop social anxiety disorder if their parents emphasize the importance of other's opinions and use shame as a disciplinary strategy, but this association was not found for Chinese American children. In China, research has indicated that shy-inhibited children are more accepted than their peers and more likely to be considered for leadership and considered competent, in contrast to the findings in Western countries. There is an increased amount or a decreased amount that social phobia affects depending on where the country is located, showing that cultur does make a difference (wikipedia).

Agoraphobia is defined as an abnormal fear of being in crowds, public places, or open areas, sometimes accompanied by anxiety attacks (dictionary). The severity of agoraphobia varies, they can live absolutely normal lives avoiding potential anxiety-provoking situations or they can...
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