Everyone has something they’re afraid of, whether common fears such as spiders, heights or something a little more unusual. However, there are people across the country who struggle with the most irrational fears and phobias.
Phobias are most commonly triggered by a particularly stressful or traumatic event, and can be linked to a certain place, situation or object. They can develop at any time, however simple or specific phobias, such as a fear of heights, usually develop during childhood. Phobias can also be caused by learnt behaviour or picked up from an early age.
We have seen a 36% rise in demand for phobia therapists in the last three years, and a 2016 study by the Mental Health Foundation found that approximately 2% of the UK population will have a phobia, with women twice as likely as men to suffer*.
From a fear of knees to a fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth, we asked surveyed more than 2,000 of our phobia therapists ‘What unusual phobias are you currently treating or have recently treated?’.
The most unusual phobias which therapists are treating in the UK, along with how many clients are receiving treatment include:
- Arachibutyrophobia – the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth (1)
- Genuphobia – the fear of knees (1)
- Anemophobia – the fear of wind (1)
- Nomophobia – the fear of being without your mobile phone (2)
- Domatophobia – the fear of houses or being in a house (3)
- Omphalophobia – the fear of belly buttons (4)
- Allodoxaphobia – the fear of opinions (5)
- Venustraphobia – the fear of beautiful women (7)
- Linonophobia – the fear of string (9)
- Chorophobia – the fear of dancing (9)
Bark.com also worked with its therapists to put together a general guide on how to deal with a phobia.
- Try exposure therapy – also known as flooding, this is a form of behavioural therapy and desensitisation that works by exposing you to your fear for an extended period of time. Once your immediate panic subsides, you can confront your fear directly.
- Learn and practice what calms you down – try different calming exercises and workout what helps to keep your calm. When you are feeling particularly scared or anxious, you can use these techniques to stop you from feeling overwhelmed. Taking slow, deep breaths is a tried and tested method.
- Exercise – a short walk, a run or a session at the gym can help to refocus your mind and keep you grounded.
- Find a support group – seek support from like-minded people who will listen to you and understand what you’re going through.
- Educate yourself – the vast majority of phobias are irrational, so making yourself more aware of your fear and reading up on it can help you understand more about the phobia, as well as reduce the amount of anxiety you feel.
- Meditation – mindfulness-based stress reduction, such as meditation, can help sufferers to soothe nerves and better regulate emotions, reducing the anxiety felt when facing a phobia.
- Seek help from a therapist – if you decide that you need help from a professional, there are various forms of ‘talking treatments’, including cognitive behavioural therapy and hypnotherapy that can help you manage and lessen your symptoms.
- Consider medications – medication is usually only recommended for a short period of time, as it’s best to see if other forms of therapy will work in the long-term, but medicine such as antidepressants or beta-blockers can be used alongside these techniques to help treat phobias.
To find an experienced therapist near you, click here.
Kai Feller, co-founder of Bark.com, commented,
“We all have our own anxieties, but there are a lot of people who suffer from irrational and often crippling fear. Some phobias may seem trivial, but they should be taken seriously, which is why we have partnered with our therapists to create this comprehensive guide. I’m sure many who read this will be amazed at what some people are scared of, we hope that these tips will be helpful to those suffering from even the most unusual of fears.”