Ephebiphobia (Fear of Teenagers)

People with ephebiphobia fear teenagers. They may view adolescents negatively, mistakenly thinking all teens have bad or violent behavior. A traumatic accident involving teenagers may cause ephebiphobia. A person with ephebiphobia may avoid all situations that involve seeing or interacting with teens. Psychotherapies can help.


What is ephebiphobia?

People who have ephebiphobia (pronounced “efee-bi-FO-bee-ah”) have an extreme fear of adolescents or teenagers. The word comes from a combination of two Greek words: “ephebos,” meaning youth or adolescence, and “phobos,” which means fear.


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What do people with ephebiphobia fear?

A person with a fear of teenagers may be afraid of anything that exposes them to adolescents — in-person, online or on TV. They may be fearful of:

  • Arcades.
  • Amusement parks.
  • Junior high or high schools.
  • Movie theaters.
  • Shopping malls.
  • Television shows or movies featuring teenagers.

What is a phobia?

Phobias are a type of anxiety disorder. People with a specific phobia develop an extreme, illogical fear of something that isn’t typically harmful.


How common is ephebiphobia?

Phobias can affect children, adolescents and adults. At some point in their lives, approximately 1 in 10 American adults develop a specific phobic disorder. While ephebiphobia is specific to adults, there aren’t exact statistics on the number of adults with this phobia.

Symptoms and Causes

Who is at risk for ephebiphobia?

Healthcare professionals don’t know why some people are more likely than others to develop phobias. People with a family history of phobias or other anxiety disorders may be at higher risk.

Often, a phobia develops as a result of both your genetics and your environment. You may be more likely to develop ephebiphobia if you:

  • See, read or hear a lot of negative news about teenagers and their actions.
  • Are exposed to social media that portrays teens in a negative light.
  • Are a victim of a crime by a teen or group of teens.
  • Live in an area with high rates of violence attributed to teens.


What other phobias are associated with a fear of teenagers?

It’s not uncommon to have more than one phobia, especially a combination of phobias that are related. Someone who has a fear of teenagers may also have:

  • Pedophobia (also called pediaphobia), fear of babies and young children.
  • Gerontophobia, fear of older adults.

What are the symptoms of ephebiphobia?

People with phobias, such as ephebiphobia, often recognize that their fear is irrational. But this doesn’t make it easy to control their physical reactions when something triggers the fear.

People with a fear of teenagers may have a reaction while in a place filled with adolescents, seeing images of teenagers or even just thinking about teens.

Symptoms may include:

Diagnosis and Tests

How is ephebiphobia diagnosed?

The American Psychiatric Association doesn’t recognize fear of teenagers as a phobic disorder in its diagnostic manual, the DSM-5. But a psychologist or another healthcare provider may evaluate your symptoms and diagnose the specific phobia.

You may have a specific phobic disorder if you have:

  • Severe anxiety when you think about teenagers.
  • Daily fear of teenagers that lasts for at least six months.
  • Symptoms that come on anytime you think about or see teenagers.
  • Changes in behaviors, such as avoiding places where you might see teenagers.
  • Poor quality of life due to phobia symptoms.

Management and Treatment

How is ephebiphobia treated?

You can try practicing relaxation techniques (such as yoga, meditation or deep breathing) to help you cope with your phobia triggers. These can help relieve anxiety and other symptoms you experience when you see teenagers.

A mental health professional can help you overcome your fear of teenagers. Treatments may include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT is a form of psychotherapy (talk therapy). Talking about your fear and situations that trigger it helps you understand why you think and feel that way. You can use this knowledge to change how you react to teenagers.
  • Exposure therapy: During this type of psychotherapy, your therapist gradually exposes you to images and situations involving teenagers. The exposure helps desensitize you to your fear of teens. You’ll gradually work your way up to being able to frequent shopping malls and other places where teens tend to hang out. This type of psychotherapy works for 90% of people with specific phobias.
  • Hypnotherapy: During hypnotherapy, your therapist induces a hypnotic state or trance. Hypnosis can help you access memories, thoughts and emotions related to your fear of teenagers. You may be able to change your thought patterns while under hypnosis. And you can address findings from hypnotherapy during psychotherapy sessions.
  • Medications: While you go through therapy, your healthcare provider may prescribe anti-anxiety drugs or antidepressants. These medications can help you cope with symptoms related to your fear. You may not need medication after you finish therapy.

What are the complications of ephebiphobia?

A fear of teenagers may lead you to avoid places where adolescents hang out or situations in which you might encounter teens. You may even stay away from television shows, movies or social media that feature teenagers. This avoidance can cause you to miss out on fun or necessary parts of life.

Phobias also increase your risk of:

Living With

When should I call the doctor?

You should call your healthcare provider if you experience:

  • Panic attacks.
  • Persistent anxiety that interferes with daily life or sleeping.
  • Signs of depression or problems with substances.

What questions should I ask my doctor?

You may want to ask your healthcare provider:

  • What’s causing this phobia?
  • What’s the best treatment for me?
  • Should I try exposure therapy?
  • How long will I need therapy?
  • Can medications help?
  • Should I watch for signs of complications?

A note from Cleveland Clinic

A fear of teenagers can make you afraid to go out or socialize in places where you might encounter young people. You may stereotype all teenagers as having bad or even violent behavior. A personally traumatic incident with adolescents or negative media exposure about teens may lead to ephebiphobia. A mental health provider can use treatments like talk therapy and exposure therapy to help you overcome this fear.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 02/24/2022.

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