Everyone has fears. Whether it is a fear of spiders or a fear of the dark, there are varying situations, places, feelings, objects or animals that can trigger an unpleasant sensation - an urge to prepare for or completely avoid the perceived danger. A fear is a completely natural human emotion, but in some people fears are more pronounced and will manifest as a phobia. A phobia is an overwhelming and debilitating fear that develops when someone has an exaggerated sense of danger about a certain object or situation. They can be incredibly stressful to live with, and in severe cases can take a toll on a person's health, well-being and overall way of life.
Living with a phobia means people are often in constant anguish about whether they may come into contact with what they are afraid of. However, continually trying to avoid a particular fear is likely to make it seem worse than it really is, and many people will start dreading confronting normal, everyday situations. Treatment for phobias can help to break this negative spiral and can help to get feelings of anxiety under control.
A phobia is essentially a type of anxiety disorder - a long-term condition where anxiety is experienced on a regular basis and sufferers feel constantly restless, worried and usually unable to sleep and concentrate properly. They have been found to be more common in women than men, and according to the Mental Health Foundation, 22 in 1,000 women are affected compared with 13 in 1,000 men in Britain.