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  • Writer's pictureKawsar Koodaruth

Fears and Phobias - A cry for help!

We are born with only two innate fears: the fear of falling and the fear of loud sounds.

Most fear is learned. Spiders, snakes, the dark -- these are called natural fears, developed at a young age, influenced by our environment and culture. So a young child isn't automatically scared of spiders, but builds on cues from his parents. "You get evidence from your parents and your environment that you need to be scared of these things," said Norrholm (PhD).

A lot of the fears that people have are simply the fear of not being in control. Fears and phobias are really nothing more than an ability to deal with something.

A lot of phobias are passed down. For example phobic, anxious, nervy parents who are worried about germs will have phobic, anxious nervous children.

If a parent is constantly saying, "That's got germs," and, "There are germs," and, "Don't touch it," and they're always getting out their sanitizing wipes and wiping the trolley, they will have children who worry about germs because we learn what we live.

Children also get a phobia as a reaction to parents that pressurise them, specially the parents who are trying to make their child perfect. Nature will oppose this perfection….

Phobias can be a child's way of saying everything is not okay or it is simply a cry for help.

The types of phobias can be detailed as:

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 examples are a fear of animals, insects, blood, heights, or flying.

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, lightheadedness, shaking, fear of losing control, and a racing heartbeat. Symptoms can last for hours. But they often peak after 10 minutes.

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. 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.

Separation anxiety disorder: A child fears being apart from an attachment figure, such as a mother or father. This condition interferes with daily activities.

Selective Mutism: A child can't speak in some social situations.

Most common symptoms when exposed to a phobia are:

  • 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. When untreated, phobias can become a lifelong issue. So treatment is important. A supportive and nonjudgmental environment is crucial with a well designed treatment plan.

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