vector image showing different types of phobias

What are phobias?

Phobias are characterised by fear and anxiety in certain situations where there is little or no real threat.

Many people can manage their phobia by avoiding the thing they fear. Still, it becomes problematic if you have, for example, a needle phobia and need to get blood drawn or get a vaccine.

There are many phobias, and we can categorise them as either a

  • specific phobia, or
  • complex phobia

Specific phobias are concerned with a fear of something specific, and we can further categorise these phobias around

  • animals – spiders, snakes, dogs and cats
  • nature – fear of heights, water, thunderstorms
  • situations – travelling on trains or planes
  • body – fear of blood, vomit, and needles.

Complex phobias are, as their name suggests, more complicated and include

  • social phobia, and
  • agoraphobia.

More recently, since the occurrence of COVID-19, research (1) has added a Covid phobia to the list. According to recent research, the helplessness experienced by people during the pandemic may have led them to experience fear, anxiety and uncertainty, coupled with worry about their health, careers and future. The unpredictable nature of Covid and the disruption to human behaviour resulting in what was called the new normal increased psychological distress, including phobias.

What are the symptoms of phobias?

Symptoms of a phobia may include intense anxiety and fear when faced with the object or situation that triggers the phobia. 

The symptoms are excessive in relation to the particular object, activity or situation.


The standard treatment is CBT and exposure therapy.

However, in the past few years, due to what was cited as a lack of access to psychological therapy and the advancement of new technology, Virtual Reality (2) is now being studied as an alternative treatment for phobias.

A to Z of phobias


Aphobia: the fear of having a fear or anxiety disorder

Arachnophobia: Fear of spiders. People with this phobia often fear getting close to spiders and may avoid areas with a high concentration of spiders.

Astraphobia: Fear of thunder and lightning

Acrophobia is the fear of heights.

Agoraphobia Fear of open spaces or outdoors. This is one of the most common phobias, affecting around 10% of the population. People with agoraphobia often have a fear that prevents them from leaving their homes or places where they are safe.

Aquaphobia – a fear of water

Autophobia: Fear of being alone, especially in the dark or with unfamiliar people

Astraphobia: Fear of thunder and lightning


Bee phobia: known as Apiphobia

Bibliophobia: Fear of books


Claustrophobia is a fear of small enclosed spaces and can include anything from a single room to an entire underground complex. Sufferers may feel trapped and have panic attacks in these situations.

Cacophobia: irrational fear of ugliness


Dentophobia is the fear of the dentist

Domatophobia: fear of houses


Entomophobia is a fear of insects.


glossophobia is a fear of speaking up in public


Heliophobia is the fear of the sun

Hemophobia is a fear of blood


Insectophobia is a fear of insects


Leukophobia is a fear of the colour white


Mysophobia is a fear of dirt


Noctiphobia is a fear of the nighttime


Octophobia is an irrational fear of the number 8

Ombrophobia is a fear of the rain

Ophidiophobia is a fear of snames

Ornithophobia is a fear of birds


Pathophobia is a fear of disearse

Podophobia is a fear of feet


Somniphobia is a fear of sleeping


Techophobia is a fear of technology

Tonitrophobia is the fear of thunder

Trypanophobia is a fear of needles


Xenophobia is the fear of foreigners


Zoophobia is a fear of animals


  1. Exploring the interrelationship between covid-19 phobia, work-family conflict, family-work conflict, and life satisfaction among school administrators for advancing sustainable management. Targut Karakose, Ramazan Yirci, Stamatios Papadakis. Sustainability (Switzerland) (2021) 10.3390/su13158654
  2. Recent Progress in Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy for Phobias: A Systematic Review. Cristina Botella et al. Current Psychiatry Reports (2017) 10.1007/s11920-017-0788-4
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