An individual's intense, irrational fear of an object or situation may lead to compulsive acts to protect himself. The intensity and compulsive quality of such neurotic fear may severely interfere with normal activities.
Commonly experienced phobias are those of germs, dirt, incurable disease, animals, heights, open and enclosed spaces. Among the more peculiar phobias illustrating the range of affliction are taphephobia, pnigophobia, barophobia and batophobia; respectively the fears of being buried alive, of choking, of gravity, and of high objects. There is also phobophobia, the fear of fearing.
Phobias and separation anxiety are 3 times more common among the children of depressed parents than in the general population, and they occur among these children earlier, especially in girls, and often presage depression.