The term “phobia” refers to a group of anxiety symptoms brought on by certain objects or situations. It is a an unrelenting fear of a situation, activity, or thing that causes one to want to avoid it. Unlike the brief fear, a person experience when they give a speech or test, phobia is long-lasting, causes intense physical and psychological reactions, and can affect your ability to function normally.
Much is still unknown about the actual cause of phobias. However, there does appear to be a link between your own phobias and the phobias of your parents. This could be due to genetics or learned behavior.
These factors may increase your risk of phobias:
- Your age. Social phobia typically develops early in life, usually by age 13. Specific phobias first appear in childhood, usually by age 10. Agoraphobia occurs most frequently in the late teens and early adulthood, usually before the age of 35.
- Your relatives. If someone in your family has a specific phobia, such as a fear of spiders or snakes, you’re more likely to develop it, too.
- Your temperament. Your risk may increase if you’re more sensitive, more inhibited or more negative than the norm.
- A traumatic event. Experiencing a traumatic event, such as being trapped in an elevator or attacked by an animal, may trigger the development of a phobia.