Specific Phobia is an intense fear of a certain object or certain scenario. It is so intense that there is avoidant behavior, body tension, freezing, or crying. The reaction is out of proportion to the situation.
I treated a girl once who had Emetophobia. This is a very intense fear of vomiting. It was such a struggle for her that she was having trouble eating. She was afraid if she ate too much that she’d get a stomach ache. Her fear of throwing-up had generalized somewhat so that any stomach ache became a trigger for a fear response. It caused near panic in her. To someone who doesn’t have a fear of vomiting this sounds ridiculous, but for someone who does have this fear they can truly understand how scary this can be. This poor girl had come to the point where she was afraid to touch things in public in case someone had a stomach flu virus. Her Specific Phobia was at a clinical level and was causing problems in her life. She needed treatment.
The good news is Specific Phobias are usually very treatable by a good cognitive-behavioral therapist. If your teen is dealing with this, give us a call because we probably can help.
Helping teens grow and families improve connection,
Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT