Types of Phobia According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)

Have you ever been caught in a situation where you hear a word that ends with the surfix -phobia, and you do not know what it means or even had an idea such a word existed? Oh! I guess you must have been caught in such a situation. You know, you start to wonder why does this person enjoy saying the blah blah - phobia, instead of just saying the meaning straight up? You see, it is quite easy to say something like Aquaphobia, instead of going on to say The fear of Water. C'mon, one is convenient, while the other is just a long train. I will help do justice to the phobia thing, and let you in on a list of phobias that you weren't even certain existed. Let me state clearly that phobia is a medical term used by medical practitioners (doctors and psychiatrist) but we now use them in our day-to-day lives and in almost all conversations.

Image from: flickr.com

What Is Phobia

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5/DSM-V), phobia is marked as the fear or anxiety about an object or a particular situation. The Phobic object, or phobic situation, is readily causing/provoking immediate fear or anxiety. Furthermore, the fear and anxiety from the object or situation is often blown out of proportion to the actual danger that can be caused by the object, environment or situation. The person actively avoids the objects and situation, or have to endure with intense fear and anxiety. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5/DSM-V), the fear and anxiety for the object and situation must have lasted for 6 months or more, and could cause significant clinical distress or impairment. Lastly, the fear and anxiety is not better explained or justified by the symptoms of another mental disorder.

This said, I will be giving medical phobic terms and what you should know about them. I am not sure if I will be able to complete all in this post, but I will give my best to it.


A lot of people are scared to death when they see spiders, and Arachnophobia is the fear of spiders. I do not like the webs, actually, but I can use my long duster to wipe them out. So I will say that I do not have phobia for spiders. People with Arachnophobia are triggered by the sight of spiders, either in reality or in pictures, the thought of spiders around them, or the thought of spider webs can trigger them, and finally, speaking about a spider or spider web can make you see a different person from the person you were initially having a conversation with before mentioning Spider.

I am sure this is stale news, but Arachnophobia is more common in females than males, and about 2.7% to 6.1% of the world's population are scared of Spiders. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and Exposure therapy/desensitization therapy are ways to manage and treat Arachnophobia.

Have you tried convincing someone about coming upstairs with you, and they bluntly tell you it cannot happen? This is because they have a fear of height. Acrophobia is the fear of height, either in thought or in reality. According to an Epidemiological study, the prevalence of Acrophobia in adult is 28% (with 32% in women and 25% in men), and 35% in children within the age of 8 and 10 years.

People who suffer from Acrophobia would have a rapid heartbeat when thinking or looking at height, shortness of breath, dizziness and light head is also another feeling when having Acrophobia,

In treating patients with Acrophobia, Virtual reality exposure therapy is a good start, Cognitive behavioral therapy, and Exposure therapy with gradually introduction to height.

While it might sound funny, people can be scared of being in an open space alone, or in a crowded place. Agoraphobia is the fear of being in an open, entrapped, or crowded space. This is often as a result of being scared of not being able to escape easily, or finding someone to save them in case of an emergency or danger. People with Agoraphobia can be scared of public places, such as malls, public transport, staying in lines, and so on. Going by an Epidemiological study, 1.7% of the general population suffer from Agoraphobia.

Pharmacotherapy with Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors drugs such as Paroxetine, sertraline, citalopram, escitalopram, clomipramine and drugs like D-Cycloserine can help with anxiety, not that they treat Agoraphobia. Psychotherapy is another treatment for Agoraphobia.

For someone like me who love to use the deep side of a pool, I do not think I suffer from this, but a lot of people get anxiety disorder by just thinking or seeing water. Aquaphobia is the fear of water. I had an old friend who wouldn't swim because he was present when someone drowned in a pool. Patients who have Rabies are also Aquaphobic. Cognitive behavioral therapy, Exposure therapy, Hypnotherapy, and antidepressant, can be used to treat and manage Aquaphobia.

As a child, I had this phobia. I would never let my mum leave me alone. In fact, I had to share the same room with my parents till I was 13 years, but I outgrew it after an experience I had when I was alone for hours and nothing happened to me. I started trying it for longer times and then, it was gone. Autophobia, also known as isolophobia, eremophobia, and monophobia, is the fear of being alone.

Staying alone as a patient with Autophobia can cause panic attacks, increased heart rate and blood pressure, Sweating and trembling, Nausea and Dizziness. It is common in females than males. Treatment and management of Autophobia includes therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors drugs, Beta blocker drugs, and sedatives.

This is one phobia that shocks me. It is the fear of success, to the extent of self-sabotaging. This article shows that fear of backlash when a person achieve success is one of the reason for Achievemephobia. This is majorly a case with women where they are lashed for being successful while men are praised for having similar success. Other reasons for Achievemephobia are Imposter syndrome, Post traumatic stress disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder.

Sincerely, I am still scared of lightning and thunder. You wouldn't blame me because growing up, I had two experiences. There was a time I was holding an iron rod and when lightning occurred, electric current passed through my body. The second experience was a case of a lightning strike electrocuting a person to death. You cannot tell me not to be scared after these incident. Currently, I really do not worry much with lightning and thunder but when it is raining, I do not make calls, hold my phone, or hold anything iron or metallic. I ensure I put on an insulated slipper when it is raining, I do not see it as too much, although, I walk and run under the rain now.

Astraphobia, also known as astrapophobia, tonitrophobia, brontophobia, and keraunophobia, is the fear of lightning and thunder. It is majorly common among children. Treatment and management include exposure therapy, Cognitive behavioral therapy, and Dialectical behavioral therapy.


Phobia of any type can cause serious medical conditions, and the National Institute of Mental Health shows that about 9.1% of American adults suffer from one phobia or the other. In my next post, I will look into other types of phobia that fall under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5/DSM-V) category.















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