ANXIETY AND PHOBIAS IN CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS

A PHOBIA – Is an identifiable and persistent fear that is excessive or unreasonable and is triggered by the presence or anticipation of a specific object or situation. Children and adolescents with one or more phobias consistently experience anxiety when exposed to the specific object or situation. Common phobias include fear of animals, insects, or flying. In children and adolescents, the identified fear must last at least six month to be considered a phobia rather than a transient fear.


TYPES OF PHOBIA AND ANXIETY DISORDER SEEN IN CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS INCLUDE:


  1. SPECIFIC PHOBIA – Anxiety is associated with a specific object or situation. The phobia object or situation is avoided, anticipated with fear or endured with extreme anxiety to the extent that it interferes with normal routine and activities.

  2. PANIC ATTACK – This is an unpredictable, unexpected period of intense fear or discomfort compounded by shortness of breath, dizziness, lightheartedness, shaking, fear of losing control, and an increased racing heart beat { called a panic attack} symptoms can last several hours, but usually peak after 10 minutes.

  3. AGORAPHOBIA --Is defined as a fear of open spaces, such as being outside or leaving home alone, related to one or more phobias or the fear of having a panic attack.

  4. SOCIAL ANXIETY DISORDER -- Fear of one or more social on performance situations in an age appropriate setting with others within the same age group {e.g school play, recital, giving a speech or book report in front of the class}


- This is characterized by fear or anxiety of being separated from an attachment figure, which interferes with regular activities.

WHAT CAUSES PHOBIAS


Research suggests that both genetic and environmental factor contribute to the onset of phobias. Specific phobias have been associated with a fearful first encounter with the phobic object or situation. The question still exists; however, whether this conditioning exposure is necessary or if phobias can develop in genetically predisposed individuals.


WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS SEEN IN AN ADOLESCENT WITH A PHOBIA


The following are the most common symptom that may occur when a child or adolescent is exposed to, or anticipates exposure to, a specific object or situation that produces intense fear or anxiety. However, each adolescent experiences symptoms differently. Symptoms may include-* Increased heart rate * Sweating * Trembling or Shaking * Shortness of Breath * Feeling of Choking * Chest pain or Discomfort * Upset Stomach * Feeling Dizzy or Faint * Numbness * Fear of Losing Control or Going Crazy * Fear of Dying * Chills or Hot Flashes.

In panic attacks, at least four of the above listed symptoms must occur with or without a known and identifiable cause. The symptoms of a phobia may resemble other medical conditions or psychiatric problems. Always consult your adolescent’s doctors for a diagnosis.


HOW ARE PHOBIAS DIAGNOSED


A Child psychiatrist or other qualified mental health professional usually diagnoses anxiety disorders in children or adolescents following a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation. Parents who notes signs of several anxiety in their child or teen can help by seeking an evaluation and treatment early. Early treatment can prevent future problems. Panic disorder, however maybe difficult to diagnose in children and adolescents and may require multiple evaluations and tests in a variety of settings.

TREATMENT FOR PHOBIAS


Specific treatment for phobias will be determined by your adolescent’s doctor based on =

o Your adolescents age, overall, health, and medical history.

o Extent of your adolescent’s Symptoms.

o Type of phobia.

o Your adolescent’s tolerance for specific medications or therapies.

o Expectations for the course of the condition.

o Your opinion or preference.


Phobia like other anxiety disorders, can be effectively treated. Treatment should always be based on a comprehensive evaluation of the adolescent and family.

Treatment may include individuals or cognitive behavioral therapy for the adolescent.


PREVENTION OF PHOBIAS


Prevention measures to reduce the incidence of phobias in adolescent are not known at this time. However, early determination and intervention can reduce the severity of symptoms, enhance the adolescent, and improve the quality of life experienced by children or adolescents with anxiety disorders.

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