Fear and Anxiety: Definition, Categories, and How to Deal with Fear and Anxiety

fear and anxiety disorders

The fear induces specific reactions in a person and causes a state of panic and chaos among them when faced with it.

If we glance a quick look at us, we see that fear is everywhere. Every day we come across people that are afraid of a variety of things that can range from the heights to closed spaces, to germs, spiders and what not.

However, these fears or phobias as they are more commonly known are relatively straightforward to diagnose.

The problem that most psychologists face is to pinpoint the concerns that are embedded deep into the mindset of a person. These fears will have a profound effect on how a person behaves.

Disorders such as Agoraphobia can prove to be quite troublesome and may induce panic attacks.


What modern medicine has taught us is that fear, like other emotions is a source of information for the body.

The anxiety that follows, as a result, is a direct reaction from the body to the fearful stimulus. Now it is entirely possible that a person is aware of what he/she is afraid.

But it is also equally likely that a particular person is not able to realize the cause of the fear.

Scientific studies have shown that five factors can induce the feeling of dread in any person and we will now briefly look into each of these five categories.

The Five Categories

The first and foremost factor on our list the ‘Fear of Death.’

To be afraid of death is one of the most fundamental fear that a human being faces.

The human brain got programmed in such a way that whenever the circumstances have a probability of fatality, the mind instantly generates a response in the form of anxiety and panic.

For example, almost everyone can relate to the eerie feeling that we get when we look down from a high height and our mind drifts towards what would happen should we fall.

The second on our list the fear of getting mutilated

What this means is that almost every person is concerned about their wellbeing. They would not want any part of their body to become infected, amputated or maimed, etc.

This idea is what precisely causes so many phobias like Arachnophobia, Cynophobia, and Ophidiophobia, etc.

The next on the list is the fear of getting restrained, paralyzed, suffocated, smothered or socially cutoff

As far as physically restrain or problems are concerned, the term is known as Claustrophobia.

However, this can also include several cases from the social and emotional life of a person.

Fear of Rejection is a severe cause for concern, especially among the younger generation

Teenagers, in particular, are mostly affected by this. To engage themselves in gangs and other social gatherings they often go through several physical and mental changes.

Some of them may even resort to breaking the law to avoid rejection and silent treatment.

As this is mostly related to the mental and emotional wellbeing of a person, the exact extent of the damage can never be adequately estimated.

Fear of losing one’s respect, image, integrity or social acceptance

And finally, there is the fear of losing one’s honor, vision, honesty or social recognition. Such people often find it challenging to address large crowds or express themselves fully with confidence.

These are the five broad categories, and all other fears that we might come across are derivatives from these classes. We see that jealousy is one factor that can seriously affect a relationship.

A particular person may feel that someone else is a better suitor for their partner and they fear to lose them to that person.

Envy works in the same way. As mentioned before, fear of shame and humiliation may cause stage fright.

These people thought that they would make a fool of themselves on stage and would be ridiculed and mocked for that. They also refrain from addressing the public or becoming prominent.

Some people may also suffer from ‘Fear of Commitment’ which also relates to the loss of autonomy.

How to deal with Fear and Anxiety

Become the observer

It consists of observing your fear as if you were an outside observer. Carefully watching the effect such fear has on you; your bodily reactions, the thoughts and ideas crossing your mind

But always placing yourself outside the scenario. Similar to watching a movie.

This method helps to discover a part of you that’s left unaffected by anxiety the moment you’re facing your fears. A portion of your self that observes your life, actions, and feelings

By regularly and carefully seeing events, scenarios, and possibilities in your mind, you can eventually take the role of the observer to prevent fear and anxiety from affecting you.

Think straight

Ask yourself if you are realistic regarding your fear. Is it as bad as you think it is? Could you possibly be exaggerating? Is it truly unavoidable?

If you can’t avoid it, what can you do to face it? Who can you ask for help?

Putting some thought into this questions can help you to assess your situation realistically, thus remarkably reducing the impact fear may have on you.

The metaphor of the leaves on the river

It is an easy to learn visualization technique. The first step is closing your eyes, even though you can do it with eyes open it is easier to make mental images more impactful with your eyes closed.

Now, imagine a river. The water keeps flowing and progressively goes faster, as the river flows far away.

Imagine the cause of your anxiety, and rip it off your chest. Shape it as you wish, for example like a small black ball. Take that “ball” and place it over a pretty leaf on the river

Let that green leaf float on the waters, and watch as the river takes far away from you the cause of your anxiety

Finally, imagine that the river brings another pretty leaf, this time you find something over that green leaf

A small object filled with something that brings you joy such as a friendship you hold dear, moments that you shared with a significant person, the love of your family; it can be anything you wish.

This method helps us to replace negative thoughts with something positive and uplifting.


It consists of treating your fear and anxiety as if they were an “object.”

You observe them and start describing them as if they have color, size, texture, smell, etc. Being as detailed as you can.

This way you will be putting a distance between yourself and your fears.

Describe your feelings

Freely express how you feel. In most cases, some experts even recommend to write down your feelings in detail.

People who follow this method end up successfully fighting off their fear or ultimately overcoming it.

Imagine someone or something that protects you

Think about a person who provides with relief, comfort, or even strength. Someone you can trust will always be by your side, who will support you, and who is willing to lend a helping hand.

Knowing you have people looking out for you, someone who cares about you can help you to reduce the impact of fear and anxiety significantly.