The Ultimate List Of Common Phobias (A To Z)

Medically Reviewed

Ziv Cohen, M.D., is a board-certified psychiatrist and clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medicine, based in New York City.
Ziv Cohen, M.D. Psychiatry / Mood and Anxiety Disorders
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Everyone has a fear of something, whether we shudder at the thought of a blood test or bristle at the sight of a certain animal. Fear is one of our basic emotions and washes over us in response to a danger or threat. But when we feel fear that isn’t warranted by our experiences or surroundings, what we are experiencing may be a phobia.

Read on to learn more about this common mental health condition, including how to distinguish general fear from phobias, typical symptoms and available treatment options.

What Is a Phobia?

A phobia, often referred to as specific phobia, is a persistent fear or anxiety related to an object or situation. These fears may include everyday activities, such as driving or flying, as well as things like needles, blood and dentists. Phobias cause individuals significant emotional distress and may impair daily functioning, but the fear responses individuals experience are outsized when compared to the actual danger they’re in.

When it comes to distinguishing between being generally fearful and experiencing a phobia, context matters, says Zishan Khan, M.D., a psychiatrist with Mindpath Health in Frisco, Texas. “If you are scared to climb down from a 10-foot tree, it is not a phobia because there is an actual danger present. You [may] potentially fall and injure yourself at such a height,” he says. However, an individual with acrophobia—a fear of heights—may experience distress simply by looking out a closed window in a high-rise building, he adds.

Specific phobia is a common diagnosis in the U.S., affecting more than 9% of the adult population[1]. Women are at greater risk and symptoms usually begin in childhood.

Common Phobia vs. Rare Phobia: What’s the Difference?

Phobias commonly fall into one of four categories, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), the standard manual used by mental health experts in the U.S. These subtypes and examples of the phobias they may induce include:

  • Animal: fears of animals such as spiders, snakes and rodents
  • Natural Environment: fears of storms and floods
  • Blood-Injection-Injury: fears of medical procedures
  • Situational: fears of flying or driving

While fears of vomiting, driving, flying and needles are some of the most common phobias, there are others that occur more rarely, such as a fear of falling or a fear of chickens.

A to Z List of Phobias

While this list is non-exhaustive, here’s a look at nearly 100 phobias individuals experience around the world:

List of Phobias
AchluophobiaFear of darkness
AcrophobiaFear of heights
AerophobiaFear of flying
AgliophobiaFear of pain
AgoraphobiaFear of public places
AichmophobiaFear of knives
AlgophobiaFear of pain
AmathophobiaFear of dust
AmaxophobiaFear of vehicles
AmychophobiaFear of being scratched
AnemophobiaFear of wind
AnginophobiaFear of choking
AnthropophobiaFear of people
ApiphobiaFear of bees
AquaphobiaFear of water
ArachnophobiaFear of spiders
AstraphobiaFear of lightning
AutodysomophobiaFear of smelling
AutophobiaFear of being alone
BarophobiaFear of falling
BathmophobiaFear of escalators
BelonophobiaFear of sharp objects
BiophobiaFear of certain species (e.g., snakes, spiders) and general aversion to nature
BrontophobiaFear of thunder
CardiophobiaFear of having or developing heart disease.
CatagelophobiaFear of humiliation
ChionophobiaFear of snow
ChrematophobiaFear of money
ClaustrophobiaFear of confined spaces
CoitophobiaFear of sexual intercourse
CoprophobiaFear of contamination
CoulrophobiaFear of clowns
CynophobiaFear of dogs
EisoptrophobiaFear of mirrors
EmetophobiaFear of vomiting
EremiophobiaFear of stillness
FebriophobiaFear of fevers
GamophobiaFear of marriage
GephyrophobiaFear of crossing bridge/water
GraphophobiaFear of writing
HeliophobiaFear of sunlight
HodophobiaFear of travel
HomichlophobiaFear of fog
HygrophobiaFear of dampness
HylophobiaFear of forests
HypnophobiaFear of sleep
IatrophobiaFear of doctors and medical tests
IophobiaFear of poison
KakorrhaphiophobiaFear of failure
KenophobiaFear of voids
KleptophobiaFear of stealing
KopophobiaFear of fatigue
LinonophobiaFear of string
MaieuslophobiaFear of childbirth
MegalophobiaFear of large objects
MicrobiophobiaFear of small objects or animals
MusophobiaFear of mice
MysophobiaFear of dirt
NautophobiaFear of the sea
NecrophobiaFear of corpses
NeophobiaFear of change
DentophobiaFear of dentists
OdontophobiaFear of teeth
OmmatophobiaFear of eyes
OphidiophobiaFear of snakes
PhasmophobiaFear of ghosts
PhobophobiaFear of being afraid
PhonophobiaFear of noise or loud talking
PnigerophobiaFear of smothering
PotamophobiaFear of rivers
PteronophobiaFear of feathers
PyrophobiaFear of fire
RodentophobiaFear of rats
ScopophobiaFear of being looked at
SiderophobiaFear of stars
SpargarophobiaFear of asparagus
TachophobiaFear of speed
TaeniophobiaFear of tapeworms
ThanatophobiaFear of death or dying
ThermophobiaFear of heat
TrauamatophobiaFear of injury
TremophobiaFear of trembling
TrichopathophobiaFear of hair
TriskaidekaphobiaFear of all things associated with the number thirteen
TrypanophobiaFear of injections
TrypophobiaFear of small holes/bumps
ZoophobiaFear of animals (usually spiders, snakes, or mice)

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Symptoms of Phobias

The actual symptoms and severity of phobias may vary from person-to-person. However, the diagnostic criteria remains the same, says Kate Cummins, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist in San Francisco. According to Dr. Cummins, diagnosable symptoms of phobia include:

  • Unreasonable and/or excessive fear
  • Immediate anxiety response
  • Avoidance/extreme distress
  • Impaired daily functioning
  • Persistence for at least six months
  • Symptoms are not caused by another mental health disorder, such as agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder or separation anxiety

“The severity of the phobia determines what one experiences and the intensity of the symptoms that manifest,” Dr. Khan notes, adding that some individuals may even suffer a panic attack when faced with the object of their fear. “Panic symptoms, while often short-lived, can be highly distressing and scary… and can occur abruptly without warning. [They] often involve extreme anxiety, a sense of impending doom, and physical symptoms [such as rapid heart rate and nausea],” he says.

What Causes Phobias?

There is no singular explanation as to why someone develops a phobia, and sometimes there’s no discernible cause. However, there are a number of potential risk factors that may play a role.

“Genetics are a big factor in phobias, as having family members with anxiety disorders or phobias increases one’s chances of developing a phobia,” says Dr. Cummins. “Those with challenging temperaments or an inability to self-regulate behaviors through anger or aggressive outburst also have higher risk of developing phobias.”

Dr. Khan says that life experiences and traumatic events may also contribute to phobias. For example, he notes that experiencing intense turbulence while flying may increase the risk of a fear of air travel—and even something as quotidian as family dynamics may also be a factor.

“Sometimes people have the same phobia as one of their parents or siblings because they are influenced to feel the same way after witnessing the severe reaction to something the other individual fears,” he adds. “They learn that the particular trigger is something to be wary of and fear.”

Can Phobias Be Cured?

The majority of phobias can be successfully treated and even cured with time, dedication and in-person or online therapy. Dr. Cummins also emphasizes the importance of educating yourself on your mental health and taking an active role in your recovery. When individuals are armed with the right information, they can better understand their fear responses and work toward change, she says.

“Change looks like a consistent adaptation of new behaviors and thoughts connected to phobias,” says Dr. Cummins. “A person who is dedicated to these choices can create consistency and change.”

How to Treat Phobias

As with any mental health condition, the right treatment plan may look different for everyone. Treatment options for specific phobias include:

  • Exposure Therapy: This is a psychological treatment conducted by a mental health professional. This type of therapy encourages individuals to face their fear in a controlled, safe environment. Exposure, or desensitization, therapy is a method of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a type of talk therapy that helps individuals change the thought patterns that cause them distress.
  • Medication: Antidepressants, tranquilizers and beta blockers may help reduce the symptoms of anxiety associated with phobias.

When to See a Doctor About a Phobia

The severity of phobias differs among individuals, and some people may attempt to muscle through their symptoms without seeking professional help. But Dr. Cummins says catching and treating a phobia early on may help prevent your symptoms from worsening over time.

“Phobias typically don’t happen overnight,” Dr. Cummins adds. To potentially stop a phobia from taking hold, she recommends seeking treatment when you notice an increase in physical symptoms connected to your fear or anxiety.

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