Risk factorsBy Mayo Clinic staff
These factors may increase your risk of phobias:
- Your age. Social phobia usually develops early in life, often before age 25. Specific phobias having to do with the environment or personal injury also first appear in childhood — as early as age 5. Fear of tunnels, elevators, bridges, flying, driving and other situational phobias usually develop by the mid-20s.
- Your sex. Phobias affect both sexes, but women and girls are more likely to have specific or social phobias than are men and boys. Women are also more likely to be diagnosed with agoraphobia, but this may be because men tend to hide anxiety or mask it with alcohol. Men and boys may be less likely to seek help for emotional problems than women and girls.
- Your family. If someone in your immediate family has a specific phobia, such as a fear of spiders or snakes, you're more likely to develop it also.
- A traumatic event. Experiencing a traumatic event, such as being trapped in an elevator or attacked by an animal, may trigger the development of a phobia.
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