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Phobias in children - Symptoms & Treatment
What are phobias in children? A phobia is an excessive fear of an object or situation. It’s a fear that lasts for at least 6 months. It is a type of anxiety disorder. These are some different types of phobias: 1. Specific phobia:- A child has anxiety when exposed to a certain object or situation. He or she stays away from the object or situation, dreads it, or endures it with so much fear that it interferes with normal activities. Some common phobias are a fear of animals, insects, blood, heights, or flying. 2. Panic disorder:- A child feels an unpredictable, unexpected period of great fear or discomfort. He or she may have a panic attack. Symptoms include shortness of breath, dizziness, light-headedness, shaking, fear of losing control, and a racing heartbeat. Symptoms can last for hours. But they often peak after 10 minutes. 3. Agoraphobia:- This is a fear of open spaces, such as being outside or leaving home alone. It is linked to one or more phobias or the fear of having a panic attack. 4. Social anxiety disorder:- A child is afraid of one or more social or performance situations with others of the same age group. Examples are acting in a school play or giving a speech in front of the class. 5. Separation anxiety disorder:- A child fears being apart from an attachment figure, such as a mother or father. This condition interferes with daily activities. 6. Selective mutism:- A child can't speak in some social situations. What causes phobias in a child? The cause of a phobia may be both genetic and environmental. A child may develop a phobia if he or she has a fearful first encounter with an object or situation. But experts don’t know if this exposure leads to a phobia. The following may help lead to the development of phobias in children: * Shyness or withdrawing from unfamiliar situations or people (behavioural inhibitions) as a child * Having negative or traumatic life events early in childhood * Mental health issues in family members * Certain physical health conditions (such as thyroid problems or heart arrhythmias), or certain substances or medicines. The physical health problems can produce anxiety symptoms, or make them worse. What are the symptoms of phobias in a child? Each child may have different symptoms when exposed to a phobia. But these are the most common: * Increased heart rate * Sweating * Trembling or shaking * Shortness of breath * Feeling of choking * Chest pain or discomfort * Upset stomach * Feeling dizzy or faint * Fear of losing control or going crazy * Fear of dying * Numbness * Chills or hot flashes A child who has at least 4 of the symptoms may be having a panic attack. These symptoms may seem like other health problems. Have your child see his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis. How are phobias diagnosed in a child? First any physical problems are ruled out. Then a child psychiatrist or other mental health provider will evaluate your child. If your child's history and symptoms meet specific clinical criteria for a phobia, a diagnosis will be made. Panic disorder may be hard to diagnose. Your child may need many tests in different settings. How are phobias treated in a child? Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is. Phobias can be treated. Your child may need: * Individual or cognitive behavioural therapy. A child learns new ways to control anxiety and panic attacks when or if they do happen. * Family therapy. Parents play a vital role in any treatment process. * School input. Meeting with the child’s school staff can be very helpful with the early diagnosis. It's also helpful in creating a coordinated treatment plan. * Medicines. Some children may feel better with medicines, such as those used to stop panic attacks. If medicine is prescribed, be certain to ask about side effects and the risks versus benefits of the medicine use. Content Source