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For Teens - What Is a Phobia?


Updated June 30, 2008

Question: For Teens - What Is a Phobia?
A phobia is basically a normal fear that has gotten out of control. There are three types of phobias: social phobia, agoraphobia and specific phobia.

Social Phobia

Most teens go through phases of shyness and social awkwardness. You may feel uncomfortable around strangers, particularly of the opposite sex. You might worry about your appearance or wonder if people find you attractive.

If these feelings are overwhelming, to the point that you cancel plans or skip school, then you might have a social phobia. If the feelings last for a long time, especially more than six months, it is a good idea to get checked out. Social phobia can be disabling if left untreated, but with a bit of therapy or some medication, you can get your life back on track.


Agoraphobia is an intense fear of being alone in a situation where you might have a panic attack. Panic attacks are scary, and people who have them often worry that they might have a heart attack, faint, or even die.

Most people who develop agoraphobia have had panic attacks before, but some people have not. If you have a serious fear of being alone in certain situations, such as in a car or in a crowd of people, you may be suffering from agoraphobia. Many teens with agoraphobia have trouble at school, avoiding crowded places like the school cafeteria. Your social activities might suffer, as you start to worry that you might freak out in the middle of a cool hangout.

Agoraphobia can get worse, eventually causing you to become housebound. If you have the symptoms of agoraphobia, it is very important to see your doctor. Agoraphobia can be successfully treated, but it is best to catch it early.

Specific Phobia

A specific phobia is an intense fear of something. If you can’t go to your best friend’s house because she owns a dog, skip going to the doctor because you are scared of shots, or hide under the bed when there is a thunderstorm, you might have a specific phobia.

Most people are scared of something, but manage to control their fears. Fears are common during the teen years, as you start to take on scary new responsibilities. However, if your fear causes you to stop doing certain things, or if you can’t stop thinking about your fear, then it is important to tell your doctor. Treatment can help you get over your phobia and get back to your life.

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  5. Phobias - What is a Phobia FAQ for Teens

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