Common Phobias among Egyptian Primary Schoolchildren: An Emergency Trigger for Panic Disorder due to Corona Pandemic

  • A. M. Metwally Community Medicine Research Department, Medical Research Division, National Research Centre, (Affiliation ID: 60014618), Dokki, Cairo, Egypt
  • Marwa M. El-Sonbaty Child Health Department, Medical Research Division, National Research Centre, (Affiliation ID: 60014618), Dokki, Cairo, Egypt; Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine, Taibah University, Madinah, Saudi Arabia
  • Ghada A. Abdellatif Community Medicine Research Department, Medical Research Division, National Research Centre, (Affiliation ID: 60014618), Dokki, Cairo, Egypt
  • Lobna A. El-Etreby Community Medicine Research Department, Medical Research Division, National Research Centre, (Affiliation ID: 60014618), Dokki, Cairo, Egypt
  • Hanan Elsayed Department of Psychiatry, Mansoura University, Mansoura, Egypt
  • Eman Elsheshtawy Department of Psychiatry, Mansoura University, Mansoura, Egypt
  • Amal Elsaeid Department of Child with Special Needs, Medical Research Division, National Research Centre, (Affiliation ID: 60014618), Egypt
  • Nihad A. Ibrahim Community Medicine Research Department, Medical Research Division, National Research Centre, (Affiliation ID: 60014618), Dokki, Cairo, Egypt
Keywords: Common phobias, Primary school, Children, Panic disorder, Corona pandemic


BACKGROUND: In the wake of the adverse situation we are currently facing globally due to the coronavirus pandemic outbreak, it is normal to feel stressed, confused, and scared but what is abnormal is to turn this to panic. Phobias are more pronounced than fears. They develop when a person has an exaggerated or unrealistic sense of danger that may be evolved to experience panic attacks.

AIM: Our objective was to identify the prevalence of most common phobias as well as panic disorder (PD) due to the coronavirus pandemic among Egyptian primary schoolchildren and their determinants.

METHODS: A cross-sectional study was conducted among 2015 schoolchildren from 3 to 6 grades in three governorates of Egypt. Seven types of phobias were investigated: Agoraphobia, phobias from darkness, animal, untreatable illness (mainly coronavirus), insects, height, and social phobia. The child’s self-reported PD symptoms were assessed using DSM-IV with psychiatric diagnoses.

RESULTS: Almost two-thirds of the surveyed primary schoolchildren have phobias of the low score (<9) versus one-third who had high phobias score (61.% vs. 35%, respectively) with highly significant difference (p < 0.001). The most prevalent phobias were from heights (66.5%) followed by darkness (60.0%). The important predictors of phobias were: Being a male child, living in an urban area, and studying at governmental school at fifth or sixth-grade residence. The prevalence of PD due to the corona epidemic is very high, it is reported by almost half of the surveyed primary schoolchildren. Fear of losing any of their family members, especially grandparents, was reported to be the highest PD symptom (97%).

CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION: Phobia from heights and darkness was the most common. The prevalence of PD due to the coronavirus epidemic is reported to be very high. Calming down children who might be experienced with a phobia that is triggering their PD is recommended.


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How to Cite
Metwally AM, El-Sonbaty MM, Abdellatif GA, El-Etreby LA, Elsayed H, Elsheshtawy E, Elsaeid A, Ibrahim NA. Common Phobias among Egyptian Primary Schoolchildren: An Emergency Trigger for Panic Disorder due to Corona Pandemic. Open Access Maced J Med Sci [Internet]. 2020May11 [cited 2020Sep.30];8(T1):3-11. Available from: