What is an "Irrational Fear?"
The word irrational can be offensive to some people. After all, the fear seems very real – and in some cases, there may be a reason to have that fear. But even a legitimate fear can be irrational depending on the way that it runs your life.
For example, let's say you have a fear of snakes – known as Ophidiophobia. Snakes can be dangerous – there are many poisonous snakes – but 99.99% of the time there are no snakes around you, and even if there were, snakes don't bite on a whim. In fact, in the United States, you have a 1 in 48,942,807 chance of being killed by a snake.
Read that again: 1 in 48,942,807.
You have a better chance of dying in an earthquake (1 in 9,788,561). You have a better chance of being struck by lightning (1 in 576,000). There are reasons that someone may want to fear a poisonous snake since snakes can be dangerous and possibly cause pain. But if you change your life to address that fear, you're likely suffering from a phobia.
There are many examples of these type of phobias. Some of them are based on real fears. Some of them are not. Examples include:
Phobias tend to fall into the following categories:
It's not just the existence of an intense fear that causes the diagnosis of a phobia. To be diagnosed with a phobia, you need to show one or more of the following:
But if you're genuinely changing who you are because of your phobias, or you're going out of your way to avoid the fearful stimulus, or you experience severe and uncontrollable anxiety over the idea or the sight of the object that causes you fear, you have a phobia that needs help.