Anxiety Disorders Phobias Rare

Phobias are a kind of anxiety disorder that involves an intense or irrational fear that is directed towards a certain object, situation or place. Some phobias or relatively common and familiar, such as the fear of heights (acrophobia) or the fear of small, enclosed spaces (claustrophobia). However, many rare phobias exist as well, ranging from fear of beautiful women (caligynephobia) to fear of poetry (metrophobia). Almost 20 million American adults suffer from some sort of specific phobia, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (2010).

Phobia Symptoms

Symptoms of a phobia can include:

  • Anxiety just when thinking about the fear
  • An inability to function normally because of the fear or anxiety
  • Doing anything possible to avoid the source of the fear
  • Feeling powerless to control fears, even when you realize they are irrational
  • Uncontrollable anxiety when confronted with the fear
  • Sweating, rapid heartbeat and other physical symptoms.

Unusual and Rare Phobias

Unusual phobias include nephophobia (fear of clouds) and aulophobia (fear of flutes). While these phobias may seem ridiculous to the average person, they are very real and frightening for someone with a true phobia.

Some fears you might see on a rare phobias list include:

  • Amathophobia: Fear of dust
  • Barophobia: Fear of gravity
  • Dendrophobia: Fear of trees
  • Chaetophobia: Fear of hair, either a person’s own hair or someone else’s
  • Chorophobia: Fear of dancing
  • Cyclophobia: Fear of bicycles
  • Gallophobia: Fear of France or French culture
  • Gephyrophobia: Fear of crossing bridges
  • Heliophobia: Fear of the sun
  • Peladophobia: Fear of bald people
  • Phasmophobia: Fear of ghosts
  • Phobophobia: Fear of developing a phobia, or fear of fear
  • Spargarophobia: Fear of asparagus
  • Tachophobia: Fear of speed
  • Triskaidekaphobia: Fear of the number 13 (this number is considered unlucky in certain cultures)
  • Xyrophobia: Fear of razors.

Diagnosing and Treating Rare Phobias

These rare phobias are all categorized as “specific phobias.” Two other categories of phobias are social phobia and agoraphobia.

The criteria for diagnosing a patient with a specific phobia include:

  • Experiencing strong feelings of fear associated with a specific object or situation.
  • Showing signs of avoidance behavior with respect to that object or situation.
  • The awareness that the fears are irrational (if the patient is an adult).

Treatment can help phobic patients manage their symptoms. Therapy is usually the treatment of choice for specific phobias. Often, therapy involves gradual and repeated exposure to the thing you fear, so that you can learn to overcome your anxiety. Your doctor may also prescribe drugs, such as beta-blockers, antidepressants or sedatives to help you manage your symptoms.

Resources

Culbertson, F. (1995). The phobia list. Retrieved July 23, 2010, from http://phobialist.com/.

Life.com (n.d.). Rare, unusual phobias. Retrieved July 28, 2010, from http://www.life.com/image/50618034/in-gallery/35512.

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2009). Phobias. Retrieved July 28, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/phobias/DS00272.

Merck Manual of Medical Information. (2007). Phobic disorders. Retrieved July 28, 2010, from http://www.merck.com/mmhe/print/sec07/ch100/ch100e.html.

National Institute of Mental Health. (2010). The numbers count: Mental disorders in America. Retrieved July 28, 2010, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-numbers-count-mental-disorders-in-america/index.shtml.