Anxiety Disorders Phobias 10 Most Common

Phobias are a class of anxiety disorders that cause the affected individual to feel an intense, irrational fear of a particular object, place or situation. About 8.7 percent of American adults suffer from a specific phobia (avoidance of a particular object or situation) in any given year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (2010). Millions more have more generalized phobias, like social phobia or agoraphobia.

The 10 most common phobias, according to Adelphi University (n.d.), are:

  • Acrophobia: This phobia is the fear of heights. Situations that might evoke fear in a person with acrophobia include standing on ladder or looking down from the window of a tall building.
  • Aerophobia: Aerophobia, or aviophobia, is the fear of flying. People with aerophobia may go to great lengths and inconvenience to avoid having to fly in an airplane.
  • Agoraphobia: Agoraphobia often manifests as a fear of leaving the house, but the root source is a fear of being in a situation in which the person feels they cannot easily escape or hide. People with agoraphobia may avoid airplanes, buses or being in crowded areas.
  • Arachnophobia: Like many phobias, arachnophobia is the fear of a specific animal–in this case, the fear of spiders.
  • Brontophobia: People with brontophobia get intensely nervous and panicked during thunderstorms. They may go so far as to hide in a closet or under the bed, even though they realize this response is irrational.
  • Carcinophobia: Everyone fears serious illness to some degree, but people with carcinophobia have overwhelming worries about getting cancer. They may undergo repeated and needless medical tests in an effort to ease their anxiety.
  • Claustrophobia: People with claustrophobia fear small, enclosed spaces such as elevators and small rooms.
  • Emetophobia: People with emetophobia have a fear of vomiting or witnessing another person vomiting. People with this phobia are hyper-vigilant about avoiding any situation that may lead to stomach sickness, including traveling, certain careers (such as nursing), eating out, or being near children or infants.
  • Necrophobia: Necrophobia can be described as the fear of death or dying, or the fear of dead things. Everyone fears death to some degree, but for sufferers of necrophobia, these fears cannot be pushed aside.
  • Social phobia: People with social phobia have a fear of being judged by others, especially strangers. They may feel highly self-conscious just returning items to a store or eating a meal in public. This phobia can severe impact a person’s ability to function and form personal relationships. About 15 million adults in the United States suffer from social phobia, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (2010).

Other top phobias and common fears include being afraid of the dark (nyctophobia), fear of dogs (cynophobia) and fear of public speaking (glossophobia).


Adelphi University. (n.d.). Frequently asked questions. Retrieved July 19, 2010, from – _4.

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Maloof, R. (2010). Top phobias of 2010. Retrieved July 28, 2010, from