What To Do When Your Teen Has A Panic Attack
It’s no wonder with COVID 19 and all these adjustments to everyday living including all the restrictions imposed on us in order to stay safe, that teens are showing signs of anxiety and even having panic attacks. Our son is one of these teens. He is used to living a life of freedom and one full of activities at that. He is used to going to the store, the movies, on impulsive small day trips, playing with friends, etc. You name it and he’s used to having the freedom to do it.
However, he has Type 1 Diabetes and we’re still battling the numbers trying to get it under control due to the fact that it’s a fairly new development as well as the fact that puberty can really wreak havoc with his numbers. This situation makes him at a higher risk of infection should he go out and come in contact with a carrier of COVID 19. So he isn’t able to go out and enjoy a normal lifestyle which is bringing on a great deal of debilitating anxiety and panic attacks.
He’s feeling shut-in, overwhelmed, challenged by homeschooling (he learns better in person), he’s missing social interaction, etc.
I’m sure he’s not the only one out there experiencing these symptoms. In fact, from a couple articles I read recently they declare that this is a common occurrence in teens.
These attacks often occur unexpectedly and are marked by extreme fear, nervousness, and apprehension.
Panic attacks are usually felt through a mix of physical, mental, and emotional symptoms. These attacks typically occur out-of-the-blue and are accompanied by four or more of the following symptoms:
- Accelerated heart rate
- Chest pain
- Chills or hot flushes
- Derealization or depersonalization
- Excessive sweating
- Fear of dying
- Fear of losing control or going crazy
- Feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint
- Feeling of choking
- Feelings of numbness or tingling sensations
- Nausea or abdominal pain
- Shortness of breath
- Trembling or shaking
But a panic attack can continue to affect a teenager long after it has ended, causing heightened nervousness and anxiety hours after the attack has subsided.
Experiencing a panic attack can be a frightening experience for a teenager. Similar to adults with panic disorder, teens who experience panic attacks are susceptible to developing behaviors where they find themselves avoiding normal everyday things.
How To Treat Panic Attacks
Some of the most common treatment options for panic disorder include psychotherapy, medications, and self-help strategies. Treatment outcomes are often best when utilizing a combination of these options and following through with treatment recommendations.
Through psychotherapy, a teen can meet with a professional who treats panic disorder to work through deep emotions and develop coping strategies. Different types of psychotherapy may be available—the most common being cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which is centered on helping the teen develop healthier ways of thinking and behaving.
Family psychotherapy may be recommended to assist in building supportive relationships between the teen and the rest of the family. Group therapy may also be available, in which the teen will be able to work through issues alongside peers who are also struggling with similar problems.