Fears and Phobias In Teens During Lockdown

It is normal for teens to feel anxious or nervous when the time comes to go back to school or have to give a report in class. Or maybe they feel claustrophobic in the confined space they need to be in during lockdown.

There are several phobias that are quite normal when it comes to teenagers and many phobias can be overcome. Some may have a phobia of dirt and germs known as mysophobia, others might have a fear of being in social situations (social phobia).

Teenagers are all unique, just like every other person on the planet and therefore handling the situation, should also be done in a unique way. Fear is a normal human emotion and the feeling of fear can last a few seconds or even several minutes. Fear is an emotional reaction to activate the body’s fight-or-flight response in a situation in which the brain identifies danger.

Phobias are a reaction to the intense fear of a particular situation. The physical sensations that accompany phobias are so intense that these situations are avoided. Teenagers with phobias might experience feelings of fear as a real situation, and these can have an impact on their daily activities and social life.

Some phobias develop when a person has a frightening experience with something particular or a certain situation that causes irrational feelings. Others are born more sensitive to certain situations because of their genes or personality traits. Phobias can be triggered by separation, traumatic experiences, illness, humiliation or rejection to name just a few.

What are the symptoms of a phobia?

People who have a phobia of some sort, are unable to control how they feel or keep their emotions intact when it comes to the situation they fear most. Just thinking about the situation can cause feelings of fear and anxiety. Common symptoms of phobias are:

– Nausea or wanting to faint
– Nervously shaking, sweating
– Numbness in the body
– Chest pain or tightness
– Confusion or disorientation
– Increased heart rate or dizziness

Can fears and phobias be managed?

The good news is, fears and phobias are treatable. With the right treatment, these can be managed. The hardest part though is getting started. The first step is talking to your teen about seeking professional help.

If you suspect your teen might have a fear or a phobia of some sort, try to be as compassionate and empathetic even if you don’t understand the feelings they are experiencing. Teenagers are judged enough at school, with friends and in other social situations. Often we tend to be judgemental about situations we don’t understand. Rather take another deep breath and rethink how you are going to approach your teen.

How do I deal with this situation?

It might take a while for your teen to open up, but talk to them. Fear and phobias are not something they want to admit, as the fear or the phobia being seen as a weakness, scares them more. They might tell you that you are too worried or you are overprotective and that everything is fine.

Schedule an appointment with a psychiatrist or psychologist, someone who has the necessary experience in working with teenagers if you notice any symptoms. This is often the first step in obtaining a full evaluation of your teen. When it comes to phobias, you will need professional assistance to manage and help treat the phobia. The earlier the phobia is identified, the easier it will be to manage.

The most frequent therapy used for treating phobias is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT. CBT can be used to develop practical ways to deal with phobia. This treatment option is used by identifying the underlying causes of the phobia to begin the treatment plan. CBT will enable your teen to manage their fears by gradually changing the way they think and react in these situations.

Desensitisation is a specific type of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy that is used in teenagers for the treatment of phobias.

What are the risks involved if phobias are left untreated?

Leaving a teenager with a phobia may have negative consequences. It can lead to depression and other types of anxiety disorders or disrupt normal social behaviour and social relationships. Otherwise, they may self-medicate or turn to substance abuse simply as a coping mechanism for the feelings or fears they are struggling to manage.

Don’t leave your teen’s phobias unattended to. If you notice a change of behaviour in certain situations, you can seek professional help. Help is available-it is the first appointment away.

Help your teen to lead a normal, happy and full life, free of fear.