Everybody feels scared sometimes, but if the anxiety reaches abnormal proportions, it’s described as a phobia. Some phobias are well-known. Everyone knows somebody who suffers from arachnophobia (fear of spiders) or claustrophobia (fear of small spaces). However, there are many unusual phobias you may never have heard mention of before. Do you know what ambulophobia is? If you suffer from it, you are frightened of walking. And there are many other strange phobias.
Symptoms of a Phobia
A phobia is more than feeling just a little scared. People with a phobia suffer from severe feelings of anxiety when faced with what the object of their fear. This can involve, for example, the following physical symptoms:
• Heart palpitations;
If you suffer from a phobia, you’re definitely not alone. According to the NHS, they are the most common form of anxiety disorder in the UK, and the ‘Mental Healthy’ website estimates that over 10 million people in the UK have some kind of phobia, such as fear of an animal, space or activity. Many are also affected by social phobias, such as fear of public speaking or extreme shyness.
Some of the strangest phobias
People who suffer from a phobia are usually aware that their fear is unfounded, but this overwhelming fear prevails. Sometimes it’s easy to empathize with the fear, such as when someone is afraid of the dentist or suffers from hypochondriasis (fear of having or getting a disease). However, there are also a lot of fears that you probably can not imagine. Here are some examples of the strangest phobias:
• Anthophobia: fear of flowers. People who suffer from this do not appreciate being given a beautiful bouquet of flowers. They avoid the florist and prefer not to be in bluebell woods or open countryside where you might walk past a primrose.
• Aurophobia: Do you break out in sweat break when you see a golden necklace or watch? Then you have a fear of gold, aurophobia.
• Chrematophobia: fear of money. This is a very awkward fear, where people, for example, are terrified of spending money or making mistakes when paying.
• Octophobia: fear of the number 8. If you suffer from this, you get a panic attack if you see, hear or have to write the number eight;
• Ithyphallophobia: fear of erections. Strange but true: some people a petrified at the very thought of an erection. They get totally panicked at the thought of having an erection or of seeing one. This must make relationships very tricky.
• Gymnophobia: fear of nudity. If you have this phobia, you’d rather not expose yourself. This causes problems in all kinds of situations, such as showers, going to the toilet or changing clothes. People with gymnophobia also panic at the sight of other naked bodies;
• Cenosillicafobie: fear of an empty beer glass. Many men may jokingly claim to suffer from this, but a genuine phobia of empty beer glasses, complete with severe panic attacks, is very rare.
With many unusual phobias, it’s pretty easy to avoid coming into contact with your fear. If you suffer from coulrophobia (a fear of clowns), then turn down party invitations for children and give the circus a wide berth. However, there are also phobias that are very difficult to avoid.
Some of the most awkward phobias to have:
• Ablutophobia: fear of bathing/washing;
• Vestiphobia: fear of clothing;
• Heliophobia: fear of sunlight;
• Nomatophobia: fear of names;
Cathisophobia: fear of sitting.
Treating strange phobias
Fortunately, a lot can be done to treat anxiety disorders and phobias. Cognitive behavioural therapy often achieves good results. A therapist works with you to help you change your mindset. You might also be gradually exposed to that which you fear, so you end up with reduced levels of anxiety. There are medications that can help with severe anxiety problems, such as certain antidepressants or sedatives. If you suffer from an unusual or common phobia or anxiety, talk about it with a doctor. He or she can refer you to a therapist, prescribe a prescription or give tips.