These factors may increase your risk of phobias:

  • Your age. Social phobia typically develops early in life, usually by age 13. Specific phobias first appear in childhood, usually by age 10. Agoraphobia occurs most frequently in the late teens and early adulthood, usually before the age of 35.
  • Your relatives. If someone in your family has a specific phobia, such as a fear of spiders or snakes, you're more likely to develop it, too. This could be an inherited tendency, or children may learn phobias by observing a family member's phobic reaction to an object or a situation.
  • Your temperament. Your risk may increase if you're more sensitive, more inhibited or more negative than the norm.
  • 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.
Feb. 08, 2014