HomeTopicalPhobias: 5 Types of Phobia and a Common List

Phobias: 5 Types of Phobia and a Common List

That’s the succinct definition of phobias right there in the title. Everyone has something they fear.

Sometimes, these fears are so intense that the mere thought of them can cause anxiety or panic attacks, and people try to avoid them at all costs. But let’s stop being vague and apply a technical touch to this article.

Phobia: Etymology

The word phobia comes from the Greek word “phobos,” which means “fear” or “horror.” In ancient Greek mythology, Phobos is the god and personification of fear and panic, the son of Ares and Aphrodite. His brother Deimos served to represent the feelings of dread and terror that befell those before a battle.

Sorry, I’m a bit of a mythology geek.


Either way, a phobia is an irrational fear of something. When someone has a phobia, they experience intense fear of a certain object or situation. It could also be a person (like a doctor or a clown), or an activity.

Having a phobia does not just mean that someone is scared of something. People with phobias have an exaggerated fear response, and while they are generally aware that their fear is irrational, they will nonetheless experience severe anxiety upon exposure to their phobia. In severe cases, they may even rearrange their lives to avoid the situation or thing that is causing their anxiety.

Phobias are different from regular fears because they cause significant distress and can interfere with the person’s life.

If you have a phobia, you may experience severe anxiety and panic attacks when you’re:

  • exposed to the object or situation
  • anticipating an encounter with your phobia
  • thinking about the thing that scares you

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition, text revision (DSM-5-TR), specific phobias are anxiety disorders. In addition, New research indicates that specific phobias affect approximately 5–10% of the general population.

RELATED: Social Anxiety: Causes and Symptoms

Types of phobias

There are three broad phobia categories: specific phobias, social phobias, and agoraphobia.

Specific phobias

Specific, or “simple,” phobias are those that relate to a particular object or situation. There are five types of specific phobias:

  1. Animal-related (dogs, insects, spiders)
  2. Blood or injury-related (Broken bones, injections, falls)
  3. Natural environment-related (darkness, heights, thunder)
  4. Situation-related (driving, flying, riding an elevator)
  5. Others (loud noises, choking)

There’s no official list of phobias beyond what’s outlined in the DSM-5, hence these categories encompass an infinite number of specific objects and situations. That being said, clinicians and researchers create names for them as the need arises. This is typically done by combining a Greek (or sometimes Latin) prefix that describes the phobia with the phobia suffix.


For example, a fear of water would be named by combining “hydro” (water) and “phobia” (fear). There’s also such a thing as a fear of fears (phobophobia).

This is actually more common than you might imagine. Fear is an irrational thing, and you can find it where you least expect it.

Social phobias

A social phobia is an extreme fear of being in situations that may cause embarrassment or humiliation in public. An example is a fear of public speaking.


Agoraphobia is a fear of being in public spaces or crowded areas without an easy means of escape. In severe cases, people with agoraphobia become housebound because they are afraid to leave their safe spaces.

Social phobias and agoraphobia are more likely to cause life impairment because the situation or thing that causes the phobia is a lot more difficult to avoid.

SEE: 20+ Pet Peeves That Make You Want To Break Something

List of specific phobias

Common phobias

People with phobias actively avoid the phobic object or situation, or they endure it with intense fear or anxiety.

Here’s a look at some common types phobias that have been identified.

achluophobiafear of darkness
acrophobiafear of heights
aerophobiafear of flying
agoraphobiafear of public spaces or crowds
aichmophobiafear of needles or pointed objects
ailurophobiafear of cats
alektorophobiafear of chickens
algophobiafear of pain
amaxophobiafear of riding in a car
androphobiafear of men
anginophobiafear of angina or choking
anthophobiafear of flowers
anthropophobiafear of people or society
aphenphosmphobiafear of being touched
arachnophobiafear of spiders
arithmophobiafear of numbers
astraphobiafear of thunder and lightning
ataxophobiafear of disorder or untidiness
atelophobiafear of imperfection
atychiphobiafear of failure
autophobiafear of being alone
bacteriophobiafear of bacteria
barophobiafear of gravity
bathmophobiafear of stairs or steep slopes
batrachophobiafear of amphibians
belonephobiafear of pins and needles
bibliophobiafear of books
botanophobiafear of plants
cacophobiafear of ugliness
catagelophobiafear of being ridiculed
catoptrophobiafear of mirrors
chionophobiafear of snow
chromophobiafear of colors
chronomentrophobiafear of clocks
cibophobiafear of food
claustrophobiafear of confined spaces
coulrophobiafear of clowns
cyberphobiafear of computers
cynophobiafear of dogs
dendrophobiafear of trees
dentophobiafear of dentists
domatophobiafear of houses
dystychiphobiafear of accidents
entomophobiafear of insects
ephebiphobiafear of teenagers
equinophobiafear of horses
gamophobiafear of marriage or commitment
genuphobiafear of knees
glossophobiafear of speaking in public
gynophobiafear of women
heliophobiafear of the sun
hemophobiafear of blood
herpetophobiafear of reptiles
hydrophobiafear of water
hypochondriafear of illness
iatrophobiafear of doctors
insectophobiafear of insects
koinoniphobiafear of rooms full of people
leukophobiafear of the color white
lilapsophobiafear of tornadoes and hurricanes
lockiophobiafear of childbirth
mageirocophobiafear of cooking
megalophobiafear of large things
melanophobiafear of the color black
microphobiafear of small things
mysophobiafear of dirt and germs
necrophobiafear of death or dead things
noctiphobiafear of the night
nosocomephobiafear of hospitals
nyctophobiafear of the dark
obesophobiafear of gaining weight
octophobiafear of the number 8
ombrophobiafear of rain
ophidiophobiafear of snakes
ornithophobiafear of birds
papyrophobiafear of paper
paruresisfear of urinating in public places or in the presence of others
pathophobiafear of disease
pedophobiafear of children
philophobiafear of love
phobophobiafear of phobias
podophobiafear of feet
pogonophobiafear of beards
porphyrophobiafear of the color purple
pteridophobiafear of ferns
pteromerhanophobiafear of flying
pyrophobiafear of fire
samhainophobiafear of Halloween
scolionophobiafear of school
selenophobiafear of the moon
sociophobiafear of social evaluation
somniphobiafear of sleep
tachophobiafear of speed
technophobiafear of technology
thalassophobiafear of deep water
tonitrophobiafear of thunder
trypanophobiafear of needles or injections
trypophobiafear of clustered patterns of holes
venustraphobiafear of beautiful women
verminophobiafear of germs
wiccaphobiafear of witches and witchcraft
xenophobiafear of strangers or foreigners
zoophobiafear of animals

READ ALSO: Mental Health: Cultural Perceptions and How To Deal With It In Nigeria 

Rare phobias

While you may have heard of some of the more common phobias, some rarer phobias include:

The longest phobia word

The longest phobia word is hippopotomonstroses-quippedaliophobia, which ironically stands for fear of long words.

There isn’t any research on this condition; this makes it hard to know its origins and how it affects people.

SEE: 50 Empowering Know Your Worth Quotes To Boost Your Confidence

What is the scariest phobia?

While this is subjective, one phobia that can cause significant distress is phasmophobia, or fear of the supernatural or ghosts.

Research from 2018 indicates that fear of the supernatural is associated with several distinct symptoms such as:

This research suggests that this fear often deve

Treatment of phobias

There are several treatments available for phobias. A 2020 study examined the effectiveness of multiple treatments, such as therapy and medication for specific phobias.

Some types of treatment that may be helpful for phobias include:

Antianxiety medication

Your doctor may recommend certain anxiety-reducing medications that can help you through exposure therapy. While these medications aren’t exactly a treatment for phobias, they can help make exposure therapy less distressing.

Exposure therapy

This is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy where you work with a psychologist to learn how to desensitize yourself to that which you fear. The goal is to improve your quality of life so that you’re no longer hindered or distressed by your fear.

SEE: How to Overcome Insecurities 

Other medications

Your clinician might also prescribe beta-blockers and benzodiazepines to manage feelings of anxiety or panic.

Other types of therapy that can help with phobias include:

However, there is limited evidence to suggest that medication helps treat specific phobias. So, if you’re considering treatment for a specific phobia, consider speaking with a mental health professional near you to find treatment options.

Phobias: It’s a wrap

A phobia is an overwhelming or debilitating fear of a particular situation or thing that likely does not pose any real danger. And apart from that, specific phobias are prevalent worldwide. So, while you may experience common fears such as heights or snakes, you may also become phobic of something less familiar.

Avoidance may be typical for you if you’re dealing with a phobia. And while this means you don’t have to face the anxiety, avoiding may only make confronting the object you’re afraid of more anxiety-provoking when you have to confront it.

So, if you have a phobia that’s disrupting your life, speak with your doctor for an evaluation and treatment options. Remember, though, that you aren’t alone.