​​Almost everyone has an irrational fear or two. For most people, these fears are minor. But for some, these fears are so severe that they can cause tremendous anxiety and interfere with our day-to-day functioning. When fears are irrational and debilitating, they are called phobias.  

A phobia is an intense fear of something that, in reality, poses little or no danger. About 9% of the population report having one.

Common phobias include fear of

  • heights or falling
  • the dark
  • animals such as dogs or spiders
  • open or crowded spaces
  • germs
  • flying
  • confined spaces

Phobias often develop in childhood and can result in avoidance, which makes the fear worse. Individuals may become extremely anxious when confronted with their fear resulting in a panic attack.

As well as the specific fear, phobias can cause people to feel worried all the time and produce general symptoms of anxiety.

People who have a phobia usually know there is no real danger and that they are over-reacting but are unable to control it. 

Getting help


  • Make an appointment with your GP who will look at treatment options and referral to specialist services if appropriate.                                                               

Useful websites

Here is the 
MIND website which includes pages on phobias.

Here is the 
Mental Health Foundation webpage on phobias.