What are phobias?

Also known as: fears, fear reaction, anxiety disorder.

A phobia is an excessive, unreasonable, persistent (lasting for at least 6 months) fear of something, place or situation, that causes the child or adolescent, to feel anxious when exposed to it. It can affect people of all ages.

This anxiety disorder may be mild and just annoying, or severe when it may be quite disabling and interfere with daily living. Some phobias are specific like fear of a person, insect, graveyard, needle, riding an escalator or elevator or being alone in the dark.

Others phobias cause extreme and intense fear-related bodily symptoms, known as panic attacks. Panic attacks can occur in social settings (social anxiety disorder), or if the child is left alone or outside (agoraphobia), they can also occur when being separated from a parent (separation anxiety disorder) or, a when a child or teen becomes so anxious that he/she cannot speak in certain social situations (selective mutism).


Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 1/29/2019 3:21:13 PM

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