Scenario : Working Through A Panic Attack As It Is Happening
This may be more difficult for teenagers than adults, simply because panic attacks may be a new thing. However, some teenagers have panic attacks so often that they have learned how to cope with them. They do homework, eat dinner, hang out with friends, and finish chores. They go shopping, drive cars, watch movies, and even laugh at jokes.
All the while, their mind is spinning, their heart is racing, and they are trying their best to keep calm and just work through the attack. While it is impressive that they can keep their composure during a panic attack, it does not solve the underlying problem: what is causing the attack.
What Does It Feel Like When You’re Having A Panic Attack
Well, it can literally feel like you’re about to die. You can have chest pain, shortness of breath, numbness, tingling, and or sweating. That’s why many people who are having panic attacks end up going to the emergency room. Most panic attacks peak over a matter of minutes and they’ll last for less than 30 minutes, but that time or the total duration of the attack can vary. So, panic attacks can actually last from a matter of seconds to hours.
Have You Ever Had A Panic Attack? If So, Please Comment Down Below And Please Share Your Symptoms Of A Panic Attack.
How Can Parents Help Children With Panic Disorder
The good news about panic disorder is that it is treatable, and parents can help. If your child has panic attacks, be sure to write down a few helpful strategies and carry them with you. That way, in the middle of the episode, you can refer to the strategies and help. These methods can help shorten or stop panic attacks:
- Remain Calm: If you panic, you will feed into the idea that there is something bad happening. Thats why its important to stay calm, even though this may feel impossible when your child is in so much pain.
- Give the Feeling a Name: Sometimes, one of the most terrifying things about a panic attack is that it is unfamiliar. Simply giving your child a name for the feeling, and telling them that it is a trick in the mind can help. Remember to validate the feelings, but do not give into the fears.
- Practice Deep Breaths: Focusing on deep breaths can take the childs focus from the fears and also return their breath to a safe pace. Model deep breathing for your child and ask them to do it with you. Breathe in through the nose, hold it, and breathe out through the mouth for about five seconds each.
If you believe your child is having panic attacks, one of the best things you can do to help is to seek professional treatment. The compassionate mental health professionals at LifeStance Health can help identify your childs triggers, develop healthy coping mechanisms, and give parents tools to help.
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Children May Tend Towards Obsessive
Often times, in an effort to manage strong feelings of anxiety, children may begin to develop rituals, leaving them prone to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder . Children may engage in particular rituals that need to be completed in the morning, after school, or before bed, in an effort to ward off potentially negative things. Common themes of OCD are germ phobia, safety, perfection, and orderliness. Children may also begin to expect family members to adhere to their rituals or particular ways in which they should function in an effort to maintain safety. For example, Sarah did not want her mother to sit on the same couch as her because she believed that if she did, her mother would become hurt. She also wanted her mother to follow a particular path down the stairs, through the hall, and into the kitchen so that she did not become ill or injured.
Diagnosis Of Panic Attack In Children
You have to explain in detail the panic episodes of the child. Doctors may ask a few questions to identify any triggers or phobia related to panic attacks. They may also perform a physical examination and order some tests to exclude medical conditions that may resemble a panic attack .
If there is no evidence of other physical illnesses, then your doctor may refer your child to a psychiatrist. A detailed analysis by a psychiatrist could help diagnose the mental health disorders that led to the panic attacks. Mental health disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder or social anxiety disorder, are a few examples of conditions that may cause panic attacks.
Chest Pain Or Discomfort
Between heart palpitations and hyperventilating, you may also experience anxiety chest pain. The first time this happens is often the scariest, since you may assume its your heart and not realize its anxiety.
Even though chest discomfort is a common panic attack symptom, its important to seek medical care if youve never had chest pain before. This can help you rule out any underlying cardiac conditions.
A doctor can run tests and ask questions to let them know whether its heart-related or anxiety.
Signs Of Panic Attacks In Children
A panic attack is an unexpected episode of extreme emotions like fear or anxiety. Your body reacts by halting some functions. Your heart beats rapidly, you are unable to breathe, you start sweating, and you feel like you are In danger.
Some episodes are wild that you feel like you are dying. Panic attacks give no warning. Everything happens abruptly and sometimes during weird hours.
You can get a panic attack when you are sleeping or when you are just sitting. There are three types of panic attacks situational , unexpected and situationally predisposed.
Panic attacks in children are worse as kids sometimes do not know that they are experiencing such episodes. The child may not be aware of the situation, but as a parent, you need to take note of the things they complain about.
Panic disorders happen at weird times. You could be sleeping or just sitting and experience an episode. Panic attacks could last minutes or even hours.
Panic attacks are not fun at all. They make kids develop fears which they previously didnt have.
Agoraphobia is one of the major effects of panic attacks. Kids become fearful of the places where they had a previous panic attack. Agoraphobic children will also avoid situations that can cause a repeat of the episodes.
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Contrary To What Is Often Suggested By Media Portrayals Panic Attacks Can Look And Feel Differently For Different People
Some experience their episodes in primarily physiological ways through bodily symptoms, such as shortness of breath, dizziness, and fainting. Others report more of a mental state of rumination and worried thinking that they cannot stop . Some people find that their panic symptoms can take on feelings of derealization or depersonalization .
Many find that panic symptoms arise when feeling stuck or trapped in a physical way or an emotional way .
Still others may experience a combination or all of the above symptoms of panic at different moments.
Either way, anxiety in this form can be incredibly debilitating, lead to depression, and affect our functioning in many significant ways.
In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders , a panic attack is characterized by four or more of the following symptoms:
- Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
- Numbness or tingling sensations
- Chills or hot flushes
From this diverse list, it is apparent that there is a wide range of ways that panic can be experienced none of which are comfortable.
A frequent hallmark of panic is a persistent worry about experiencing future panic. At worst, this tendency to mentally fixate and ruminate on ones thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations actually feeds into the cycle that creates anxiety, which in and of itself, can bring on another spike. Essentially, anxiety about feeling anxiety creates more anxiety.
Teen Anxiety: How To Help Your Teen Cope
Has your child been acting differently lately? Do they have trouble concentrating on schoolwork, show feelings of overwhelming sadness, or have unexplained losses of appetite or energy? Are they negative, irritable, and do they describe a sense of numbness in their day-to-day life? You could be dealing with a teen whos grappling with anxiety and depression.
These are easy-to-miss signs, often mistaken for teen angst. Everyone has dealt with feelings of anxiety at some point in their life, but having them on a regular basis can indicate a greater underlying issue. Research suggests these reactions are our natural fight or flight responses to dangerous situations. However, our current world causes us to use them as a reason to turn away from anything that triggers overwhelming stress.
Panic, anxiety, and fear are powerful emotions that can cause us to switch our behavior patterns. Severe anxiety can cause a part of our mind to go into survival mode as it tries to find distractions to bring us back into better spirits.
Sometimes a mixture of panic and anxiety can trigger panic attacks . These episodes can be extremely overwhelming, especially for teens that are trying to manage other mental health disorders alongside them.
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This Is How A Panic Attack Feels
During a panic attack, the dramatic physical sensations you feel can be so upsetting that some people mistake it for a heart attack.
The emotional and mental symptoms can be overwhelming, too. You might feel like something catastrophic will happen or that you need to escape the situation youre in because youre in imminent danger.
These sensations and feelings arent always related to a specific trigger. A panic attack can take you by surprise and might even happen when youre resting or asleep.
Its often the suddenness of panic attacks thats most upsetting.
Some people experience panic attacks just once, but you may also experience them several times or chronically throughout your life.
Some people might also experience panic attack symptoms every time theyre in a specific situation, like when they get stuck in an elevator or when speaking in public.
In some cases, panic attacks can also result from medical conditions or injuries, or even as side effects of some medications.
Not all panic attacks have the same triggers or causes and they can be both expected or unexpected.
What Does A Panic Attack Or Disorder Look Like
If you dont know the answer to this question, you are not alone. Many people want nothing more than to do what is best for their child, however, they dont have the knowledge to pinpoint this condition and determine which type of treatment is best.
It is important to know what a panic attack or disorder looks like.
Note: panic disorder does not always look the same in children as adults. The reason for this is that most children report the physical symptoms of the attack, not the psychological ones.
Here is the one word you must become familiar with: unpredictability. Does your child become frightened in a particular situation, such as when meeting a new person? If so, this may not be the sign of a panic attack, but instead a phobia.
Panic attacks can cause a lot of trouble for a child, both at home and in other aspects of their life, such as at school. Your child does not have to struggle with this alone. Call for help today.
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How To Teach Your Children About Anxiety Or Panic Attacks
Anxiety attacks usually last for about 10-15 minutes however it can feel like a lifetime for both you and your child. After your child has his or her first panic attack, it is important to educate them on the signs and symptoms associated with panic attacks so if another one occurs, they can understand what is happening. Teach your children that panic attacks are a false alarm in their bodies. Let them know the physical sensations associated with a panic attack so that when they experience them, it wont be as scary.
What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Anxiety
A parent or teacher may see signs that a child or teen is anxious. For example, a kid might cling, miss school, or cry. They might act scared or upset, or refuse to talk or do things. Kids and teens with anxiety also feel symptoms that others can’t see. It can make them feel afraid, worried, or nervous.
It can affect their body too. They might feel shaky, jittery, or short of breath. They may feel “butterflies” in their stomach, a hot face, clammy hands, dry mouth, or a racing heart.
These symptoms of anxiety are the result of the “fight or flight” response. This is the body’s normal response to danger. It triggers the release of natural chemicals in the body. These chemicals prepare us to deal with a real danger. They affect heart rate, breathing, muscles, nerves, and digestion. This response is meant to protect us from danger. But with anxiety disorders, the “fight or flight” response is overactive. It happens even when there is no real danger.
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Are Panic Attacks A Mental Health Condition
Having a panic attack, or even a few, doesnt mean you have a mental health condition.
But once youve had one panic attack even if it was just the one time its not uncommon to worry itll happen again.
As a result, you might start avoiding places, situations, and people that you think will trigger another panic attack. For example, you might start changing your daily routines or stop working out or going grocery shopping.
While changes in routines and habits can sometimes be a good thing, if they start causing problems in relationships or work, it might indicate an anxiety disorder.
Also, feeling constantly anxious about having a panic attack might actually lead you to experience one.
If this avoidant behavior and high anxiety continues and you experience regular, unexpected panic attacks, you might be diagnosed with panic disorder.
But you wouldnt be alone. Its estimated that at least 6 million people in the United States alone live with this mental health condition.
If you start avoiding social events or getting out of the house altogether for fear of having another panic attack and not being able to escape, then you might receive an agoraphobia diagnosis.
But not everyone who experiences panic attacks will be diagnosed with a condition such as panic disorder or agoraphobia.
In other words, anyone can experience panic attacks without having a panic disorder or mental health condition.
Some People May Develop Panic Disorders
For many people, the feelings of panic occur only occasionally during periods of stress or illness. A person who experiences recurring panic attacks is said to have panic disorder, which is a type of anxiety disorder. They generally have recurring and unexpected panic attacks and persistent fears of repeated attacks.
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Panic Disorders Can Happen To Physically Healthy People But Sometimes An Undiagnosed Health Issue Is To Blame
Heart conditions, asthma, and low blood sugar can cause many of the symptoms felt during a panic attack. Thyroid conditions and certain medications can also cause similar symptoms. For this reason, it is often wise to schedule a thorough medical exam to ensure the safety of the teen.
Psychological/Neuropsychological evaluations and thorough assessments can help clinicians and clients understand the function of their symptoms . Understanding the function, context and purposes of the panic attack can help manage symptoms with adaptive responses instead of negative reactions.
What Does Panic Disorder Look Like In Teens
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes a panic disorder as having repeated episodes of sudden, unexpected, intense fear that come with symptoms like heart pounding, having trouble breathing, or feeling dizzy, shaky, or sweaty. These periods of sudden, unexpected fear are called panic attacks and can be scary to experience without proper tools to combat them.
A panic attack is an overreaction to the bodys natural response to what we perceive as danger. The amygdala stimulates the sympathetic nervous system and sends adrenaline throughout the body, pushing blood and oxygen into the arms, legs, and brain.
Panic attacks increase these responses substantially, causing a racing heart, heavy breathing, and hyperventilation . People whove experienced one describe their chest feeling tight and their breathing patterns becoming irregular, although theyre still able to maintain enough oxygen flow throughout the body. Our current research is unable to pinpoint why this happens to us, however, cues of past traumatic events can contribute to what triggers one.
Some of the signs and symptoms of panic disorders in early childhood include:
- Chest pain
Panic disorders can be tricky in adolescents. A child would need to meet the following criteria to be diagnosed:
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Identifying And Treating Anxiety In Children
Childhood anxiety can sometimes be missed because it often appears as difficult or bizarre behaviors that some may believe will simply be ‘outgrown.’ However, if any of these symptoms or behaviors persist, consult with a Psychologist who uses a Cognitive Behavioral approach in treating anxiety. As childhood anxiety can also be exhausting for you, the parent, be certain to gain support for yourself through a parent support group for children who suffer from anxiety. You could also consider psychological support to offer support and guidance as you work with your child towards decreased anxiety.
What To Do To Prevent Hyperventilation
Hyperventilation is often caused by anxiety. On the other hand, hyperventilation itself can also cause or worsen existing anxiety. This means that if you can stop hyperventilating, you can potentially reduce the severity of your panic attacks and perhaps prevent them altogether.
Most people don’t realize they’re hyperventilating until the process has already started, so it may be difficult to fully control all anxiety attacks and prevent all instances of hyperventilation. Furthermore, the more you think about your breathing, the more at risk you are for hyperventilation because your mind may interfere with your automatically programmed breathing rhythms. Therefore, it’s not always in your best interests to spend too much time thinking about your breath.
You also need to make sure that you’re able to accept what hyperventilation actually is a non-dangerous breathing style that is going to cause you some discomfort, but ultimately will not cause you any harm from a medical perspective. In other words, it can be helpful to remember that the worst thing that can happen is that youll feel discomfort.
The following are effective ways to prevent hyperventilation:
Doing this will help your body balance its carbon dioxide levels again and should prevent you from further hyperventilating. The trick is to regulate the rhythm of your breathing: keep it slow and steady.
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