Parenting Child Psychology and Behaviour

Does Your Child Suffer From Panic Attacks?

Ambili S Kartha
3 to 7 years

Created by Ambili S Kartha
Updated on Apr 12, 2018

Does Your Child Suffer From Panic Attacks

Is your child anxious all the time? Is your child worrying seriously about silly and unnecessary matters? Nowadays more and more children are reported to experience different types of anxiety disorder. Change in the lifestyle and influence of video games and social media usually took the blame for this increase in the rate of anxiety disorder in children. Anxiety affects the children differently. It's quite common for children to be anxious occasionally as they come across many new situations to tackle during their growing phase. Anxiety ranges anywhere from mild to severe. The panic attack is one of the episodes of anxiety disorder.

What Is A Panic Attack?

Panic attacks are an extremely alarming symptom of anxiety. It is characterized by the sudden emergence of intense fear that hit without an advance warning. These episodes can occur at any time, even during sleep. Panic attacks come with several uncomfortable physiological changes that can last anywhere between five and 20 minutes.

What Is A Panic Attack In A Child?

Panic attack in child happens when the ‘flight-or-fight' reaction, which is usually set off by an approaching danger, occur due to intense anxiety. This can appear even in the absence of an obvious trigger. Here, the brain tricks the autonomic nervous system to set off the ‘flight-or-fight' response. As a result, the body is flooded with adrenaline and other hormones that bring about several annoying physiological changes.

Here are some facts about panic attack in children

  • Your child can experience panic attacks out of the blue. A family history of anxiety or panic attack is not essential for hitting by a panic attack
  • There are two types of panic attack. Expected panic attack and unexpected panic attack. The expected panic attack happens due to some triggers, mainly phobia. Whenever the child is exposed to these triggers, the panic attack happens. Examples are fear of water, height, darkness, etc. unexpected panic attack, on the other hand, can happen at any time
  • The panic disorder in children implies frequent panic attacks and constant worry that leads to several more panic attacks. The children who experience panic disorder start to avoid going places and keep themselves away from activities, out of a fear that a panic attack might occur
  • What Increases The Risk Of Panic Attack In Children?

    Even though panic attack can happen any time, there are some factors that increase its risk in children. Here are some of the chief causes of the panic attack in children:
    • Genetic cause:

      Panic attack is found run in the family. Parents with a history of anxiety disorder or who experience panic attacks increases the chance of the child to experience a panic attack
    • Mental conditions:

      Children suffering from the mental disorders like agoraphobia (fear of being in a situation where escape is difficult), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are at a high risk of experiencing panic attacks in their life
    • Stress:

      Stressing out increases the chances of the panic attack. Educational pressure or any kind of intense stress increases the chances of the panic attack in children
    • Medical issues:

      Conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) also increase the risk of panic attacks in children
    • Wrong Food:

      Certain foods can set off the onset of anxiety and other panic attack symptoms in children. Alcohol, caffeine, and monosodium glutamate (MSG) come from this group
    • Medication:

      Regular intake of medicines for chronic asthma or heart disease increase the risk of panic attack among children

    What Are The Signs Of A Panic Attack In Children?

    Signs of the panic attack in children include:

    Physical symptoms

    • Increased heart rate
    • Chest pain or tightness in the chest
    • Choking sensations
    • Dry mouth
    • Sweating and trembling
    • Gastrointestinal distress
    • Body temperature changes
    • Hot or cold flushes
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Feeling dizzy
    • Feeling numbness or tingling in the limbs

    Psychological symptoms

    • Fear of dying
    • Losing control of the mind
    • Always expect some sort of danger and remain hyper-vigilant
    • Feeling unreal and disconnected

    What Are The Toddler's Panic Attack Symptoms?

    Toddlers may not have the vocabulary to describe how they are feeling, so parents should watch out for these signs of panic attacks.
    • Profuse Sweating
    • Increasing heartbeat
    • Shaking or trembling
    • Looking confused
    • Change in eating habits (overeating or less eating than usual)
    • Difficulty breathing
    • They appear tense and restless and use the toilet frequently
    • They become clingy, unwilling to part from you
    • Trying to run away from a place or situation

    Using their inadequate vocabulary, the child might complain about:

    • Tummy Aches
    • Feeling dizzy
    • Chest pain
    • Feeling like they are choking
    • Numbness
    • Tingling
    • Feeling too hot or cold

    How To Cure Panic Attacks In Children?

    Recognizing and treating panic attack in children is very important. If left untreated, it will interfere with the normal development, relationship, school works and ultimately their health. Fortunately, constant panic attacks in children are effectively treated with regular counseling, medications, cognitive-behavioral therapy and relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation.

    Panic attack treatment has different aspects. It includes both psychotherapy and child panic attack medications. Also, there are home remedies or home treatments and some tricks to deal with the panic attack in children.

    Psychotherapy For Child Panic Attack

    Behavioral therapy helps to bring down the negative emotion and increase the self-esteem of the child suffering from panic attacks

    Exposure therapy in which the child gets gradual exposure to the situations that trigger the panic attack in a safe and controlled environment. This eventually helps the child to deal with the panic attack.

    Child Panic Attack Medication

    The different sorts of anti-depression and anti-anxiety medicines are prescribed by the doctor to reduce the onset of panic attacks in children. Benzodiazepine is the most commonly used anti-anxiety drugs for the child panic attack. This provides instant relief from the stressful symptoms.

    Even though these medications provide temporary relief from the annoying symptoms of panic attacks, they are highly addictive in nature. So use it occasionally and rely on home remedies and home treatment to deal with child panic attack. Here are some tips:

    Stay calm:

    Always deal the situation with calm and a level-headed mind. Your child who is in the midst of a panic attack has lost their sense of control you losing yours will worsen the matter.

    Give support:

    Ensure your child that you are there for him or her. Affirming comments like everything will be fine and this is just a false alarm of the body and will end soon. Tell them they are not at all ill.

    Distract the child:

    Deliberately distract the child's thought when the signs of panic attacks appear. Choose one that suits your kid.

    Encourage some physical activities:

    Encourage slow breathing techniques, muscle relaxation techniques, guided activities, etc. when the child starts to exhibit the signs of the panic attack

    Healthy diet:

    Give the child healthy, well-balanced food. Restrict your child from excessive intake of stimulants like tea, coffee, and soft drinks.

    When To Seek Medical Attention?

    Usually, it is only during the initial panic attacks you should seek immediate medical attention. Once you understand to deal with the child's panic attacks through medications and home therapy, you have to seek immediate medical attention only when the child shows difficulty to breathe, terrible chest pain or faints.

    Did you like the blog? Did you find it useful? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section below; we’d love to hear from you.

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| Apr 14, 2018

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