Phobias are not restricted to any particular country or demographic – it can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time. Research has revealed some interesting facts – estimates indicated that over 15% of people around the world will experience some anxiety or disorder. Around 70% or more develop anxiety issues by the time they are 21 years old. Women are more likely than men to develop a disorder.
Rates and specifics differ from country to country. Specific phobias start very often at a young age – beginning at age 7. This can be anything from fear of storms, fear of animals/insects or even reptiles, fear of the bogeyman or even going to school. Separation anxiety is probably the biggest phobia in young children. In adults, the most common is agoraphobia. Prevalence seems to be marked less in older people – this could be because of under reporting or improper diagnosis.
- Agoraphobia is the most common in every part of the world. It is more common in women, those who are housebound and among the unemployed.
- Social phobia rates vary from country to country and it is highest in Russia.
- Anxiety disorders cover a variety of conditions. It mostly shows up in people with depression, drug and substance abuse issues.
- Culture Specific phobias: Ataque de nervios (a psychological syndrome) seems to be pretty common in the Hispanic population. Symptoms include uncontrollable crying and screaming, fainting and memory loss. Tajjin Kyofusho is exclusively Japanese and is marked by a fear of offending people by one’s appearance or body. There is quite an extensive list of such phobias particular to each country.
- PTSD related phobias: Post traumatic stress disorder is the study of the psychological effects of being in stressful situations like war or living through a disaster. One well known example is Hurricane Katrina – studies were conducted 2 years after the storm and it shows that anxiety disorders have increased dramatically in the years since.
All in all, phobias are a fact of life for people around the world. Help is available for people who recognize that they need it and reach out for it by going to their doctor.