What is Ephebiphobia (A Complete Guide)

Ephebiphobia is an extreme fear of teenagers.

The word is coined from the Greek word ‘ephebos’ meaning youth or adolescence and ‘phobos’ meaning aversion or fear.

This fear may arise due to the generation gap that is evident more in many cultures than others.

A person suffering from Ephebiphobia experiences a full-blown panic attack at the mere thought of talking to or being with teenagers.

He will avoid all places where the teenagers frequent, like malls, cafes or such places.

They will even avoid watching channels that are hosted by teens and run programs for teenagers. 

Ephebiphobia is the fear of youth and teenagers.

First devised as the “fear or loathing of teenagers”, now this phenomenon is recognized as the “inaccurate, overstated and sensational characterization of the young minds”.

Causes of Ephebiphobia

Ephebiphobia might have been born from a stereotypical schema related to the youth.

Teenage is the time where the minds of the young are evolving with ideas that are novel and creative.

If they are given the opportunity to ‘think on their own’, then we might see a dire change in the way our world runs.

Older people start comparing themselves to the youth of the latest times, calling them lazy, selfish and rude.

The attitude of the teenagers due to the influx of their hormones is somewhat diverged.

They have less patience than adults and want instant results.

The generation gap between grandparents and teenagers also plays a vital role due to the lack of understanding and the fear to talk to teenagers takes its roots.

This fear comes from the attitude of these youth, that if spoken to they will be disrespectful and rude.

Therefore, the person suffering from Ephebiphobia starts avoiding any conversations with these young people and this in turns consolidates their Ephebiphobia. 

1. Genetic Predisposition

Anxiety and related phobias have a significant genetic basis according to Genome Biol. 2003; If a person is suffering from Ephebiphobia then chances are that there might be an anxiety disorder of one form or another running in the family. 

There is a high prevalence rate of the existence in a person to develop phobias, depression and anxieties if someone in the family is already suffering from it.

It could also be that the person is already suffering from a mental or psychological disorder prior to his developing this phobia.

There have been cases where the presence of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) brought on severe symptoms of Ephebiphobia.

2. A previous Trauma or Accident

Rational and irrational fear, both develop due to an event or incidence that took place in the past.

Either the incident was of such profound proportions or the threat implied to it generated emotions of a magnitude. Thus, the fear evolved!

Childhood is the time of vulnerability and of forming schemas that will stay with the child for all times to come, shaping and casting how he would respond in the future.

A person suffering from Ephebiphobia may have experienced an event where a teenager may have played a threateningly important role or the presence of youth implied a state of affairs that the child or person could not have avoided. 

They are actually afraid of being insulted by teenagers and fear that they may not be equipped to answer any of their queries.

It might have happened in the past youth of teens have displayed aggression towards him and this has led to Ephebiphobia. 

In countries where there are riots led by the youth Ephebiphobia is on a rise. But there is a distorted perception of young people that creates a self-fulfilling prophecy: why bother to try when you are told that you are a failure?

They themselves see their own abilities not being appreciated and this leads to aggression and frustration.

And this aggression is what scares people to the extent of them becoming Ephebiphobics.

  1. Imitation or Modeling 

Fears (general or specific) are very common in all of us.

There might be a rarity where people are not really afraid, but in 90% of the cases in universal population, fear is present.

Fear of one thing or another. 

Children learn behaviors from their parents, siblings or significant another. They learn positive as well as negative behaviors.

That is the reason people tend to carry themselves around in a particular or desirable behavior in front of their kids. 

If a parent seems to be afraid then chances are higher that the child/children will replicate the same, without knowing the real cause of the scare.

Symptoms of Ephebiphobia

Phobias limit the daily activities. Panic like symptoms are common in all phobias, including this one as well.

The onset of symptoms is very sudden and take the sufferer by surprise. 

They may occur at the mere mention of a word depicting the fear, an image of teenagers and youth.

Physical symptoms

The physical symptoms of Ephebiphobia include:

  • Headaches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sensation of Choking 
  • Trembling
  • Tachycardia
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Confusion
  • Dry mouth
  • Feeling faint

Psychological Symptoms

The psychological symptoms of Ephebiphobia include:

  • Fear of losing control
  • Fear of dread
  • Fear of dying
  • Fear of being terminated
  • Refuse to interact or contribute with younger people.
  • Willingness to go against anything that may be positive for youths.
  • Complete evasion of young people, no matter where.

The symptoms can vary in severity, depending on the nature of the stimulus.

Treatments of Ephebiphobia

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

It is one of the most frequently used treatment for patients with almost all kinds of mental disorders.

Ephebiphobia is defined as the irrational fear of youth.

Thus, the therapist helps the patient in replacing these irrational thoughts with more rational ones. 

The patients are helped out in analyzing and justifying the way they feel about being exposed to teenagers.

Therapists assist them in uncovering the reasons behind their fear and later they provide them with alternate, pleasant thoughts. 

The patient is told to maintain a thought diary (with ABCD column) which provides them a replacement for every irrational thought they have, when thinking about a particular situation or color.

The ABCD stands for: 

• A (antecedents) a situation or triggering event.

• B (belief) the thought that comes to one’s mind when in that triggering situation.

• C (consequences) the symptoms/feelings caused by that event/thought 

• D (dispute) alternate, rational thoughts provided by the therapist in an attempt to        dispute/challenge those irrational beliefs.

 This last section of the thought diary is what really plays a role in helping the person feel good/less anxious.  

• Neuro-Linguistic programming (NLP) 

It is a psychological approach that includes ways of trying to reach a personal goal.

It links language, thoughts and patterns of behavior learned through experience. 

The key elements of NLP are action, modeling and effective communication. It suggests that everyone have different ways of how they see the world.

By understanding a number of perspectives of others, patients who use NLP see the world through a combination of their personal views and that of others. 

NLP therapists treat patients with Ephebiphobia by making them understand their thoughts, behaviors and emotional state.

By having an insight of the patients own ‘personal’ view of reality, they assist them in forming new, positive thoughts. 

NLP helps the patient in improving his state of thoughts about other people by understanding their cognitive-behavioral patterns.

Like CBT, this form of therapy is also very effective. 


This another form of treatment used with patients suffering from specific phobia or anxiety disorders. 

It is used with patients who know the cause of their phobia. 

First, the therapist collects the patients’ history of different fears.

They then identify the real cause of the particular fear/phobia the patient has. 

They then discuss any new/latest event that triggered their anxiety and fear in the past few weeks.

People coming with specific phobias are told to imagine their distress causing stimuli. 

The therapist then works with the individual in order for them to overcome their fear.

In the case of Ephebiphobia, the patient will be advised on how to overcome his fear of teenagers.

They do this by creating a positive imagery for the patients’ feared stimuli. 

• Exposure Therapy 

It is one of the most frequently used ways of treating patients with Ephebiphobia (or any other kind of specific phobia).

In this therapy, the patient is exposed to the source of his fear over a certain span of time.

To begin with the therapy, the therapist exposes the patient to the least triggering stimuli, a picture or image of youth and teenagers engaged in activities for example. 

As the therapy progresses and the patient is able to control his anxious feelings, imagery can be used to take the treatment a step further.

In this part of the treatment the patient is asked to visualize/imagine a situation in which he is surrounded by youth. 

During this process of imagery, one actually feels being in that particular situation or place, experiencing various senses.

Once the person successfully, without feeling anxious clears this step of the therapy, he is then exposed to a real situation in which he is exposed to teenagers where he can talk to them and perform activities as well.

While the patient is being exposed to different intensities of fear causing stimuli during the various stages of therapy, the therapist simultaneously teaches them coping exercises.

These include, breathing techniques or muscle relaxation methods to lower their anxiety, when in an actual fear/anxiety causing situation.

This teaches them how to remain calm when exposed to the fear stimuli.

Before actually starting the exposure therapy, the therapist needs to figure out the intensity of the patients fear, as to deduce whether they will be able to undergo this treatment, without any physical or psychological harm caused to them during the exposure processes. 

However, these steps desensitize one to their fear of people, by exposing them to that stimuli repeatedly, until they learn to undergo the situation without anxiety/panic attacks.

• Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) 

MBSR is a meditation therapy, is used to manage stress or anxiety. It is an 8-week program which includes group sessions.

Mindfulness meditation and Hatha yoga are practiced in these sessions, lectures and group discussions are also done to talk about mental health and increase interactivity.

In mindfulness meditation the person is told to, for example to focus on the sensations felt while breathing or the rhythm of the chest rising and falling during the process.

This distracts the person’s attention from something stressful to something which is neutral and soothing. 

For quick and effective treatment, patients are also given a set of home works, for example 45 minutes of yoga and meditation, 6 days a week and to record their results/feelings in a book or diary for 15 minutes a day.

• Drug Therapy 

Drugs are used to reduce the physical symptoms caused by Ephebiphobia.

Drugs are very quick in effectiveness, as they start showing progress in the patients’ health at least 2 weeks after the medicine is taken. 

This type of biological treatment is usually more effective if the cause of the phobia is only genetic.

However, these drugs/medicines are not to be taken without a doctor’s prescription or consultation. 

Two types of drugs are used in the treatment of this phobia:

                       i. Anti-anxiety Drugs

Medicines like Valium are anti-anxiety drugs.

They are most commonly used with patients who experience panic attacks and also lowers their anxiety by binding to receptor cells of the brain that cause these unpleasant symptoms. 

                      ii.   Antidepressant Drugs

These drugs, as the name suggest don’t only treat depression but are also very effective in treating phobias.

Medicines like Lexapro reduce the anxious feelings of a person and makes him feel calm.

They need to be taken on a daily basis but not without a doctor’s advice.

Whether the cause of Ephebiphobia, or any other type of specific phobia is genetics, environmental or both, the best and the most effective way of treating them is by using a combination of both biological treatments (drugs) with cognitive treatment (for example CBT/exposure therapy).

Frequently Asked Questions

What does Ephebiphobia mean?

Ephebiphobia is an extreme fear of teenagers.

The word is coined from the Greek word ‘ephebos’ meaning youth or adolescence and ‘phobos’ meaning aversion or fear.

What causes Ephebiphobia?

Ephebiphobia is caused by a predisposition of anxiety disorder in the family, an earlier traumatic event or a learned behavior of others.

What is the fear of adults called?

The fear of people is called Anthropophobia.

Do only old people have the fear of youth?

No. the fear of youth is also found in adults or middle-aged people and not only old people.

Are Ephebiphobics jealous of the youth?

Ephebiphobics are scared of the youth and not jealous.

Titles to read from

Examples of other interesting phobias



• www.psychtimes.com

• www.americanpsychiatricassociation.com

• www.nhs.uk

• www.medigoo.com