Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Children Can Have Panic Attacks

By Angelica C

Yes, it's true. Children and adolescents can have panic attacks and suffer anxiety disorder. Like adults, our youngsters can experience anxiety and may be so overwhelmed with situations that panic attacks occur. Stressful events like starting school, neighborhood transfers, recent loss of a loved one, separation and divorce or family's financial crisis can trigger the onset of the attacks.

Though panic disorder does not need specific triggering factors, these stressors play a vital role in anxiety disorder development if anxiety and stress levels of our child are left unchecked.

Anxiety disorder among children is marked by poor performance in school, less developed social skills, and frequent tantrums. It is diagnosed in people who suddenly experience these panic attacks, without any particular reason or cause. These people not only experience these panic attacks out of the blue, but they would also continually fear the possibility of having another episode.

This abrupt onset of overwhelming fear comes with physical symptoms like palpitations due to feelings of imminent doom, sweating, uncontrollable trembling, and difficulty in breathing, dizziness or nausea and chest pains. These are also accompanied by sleep disturbance, muscle aches, frequent stomach ailments and clingy behavior.

As symptoms are similar to heart attacks and thyroid problems, people who suffer from these panic attacks may take a long while to be properly diagnosed. The frequency of seemingly life-threatening attacks may take a toll on our kids and on the parents as well.

Since our kids could not effectively convey their emotions, the terror that they experience every time they have the panic attacks is inconceivable. Our kids can feel the same stress and anxiety that adults feel. Yet they could not fully comprehend what we could. Nor can they communicate as easily as most adults could.

If you think your child is among those who suffer from panic attacks, help can be in the form of therapies and medications. It is very important that you have your child properly diagnosed by a licensed physician.

Cognitive behavior therapy has been proven to be the most effective and most recommended kind of therapy, as this focuses on helping the child or young teen to develop and learn skills to manage his anxiety and master the situations that contribute to his panic attacks. Your child may also benefit from taking medications like anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs together with the therapy. This will help our kids be calmer and more at ease.

Parents play a significant role in spotting early symptoms of panic attacks and help prevent the onset of a panic disorder. As parents, we should be vigilant in our kids' emotional and mental well being by keeping open and healthy communication line with them. We should know that fears are part of the growing up years of our child, but when it starts to impede daily activities and social interaction with other family members and other children, do not hesitate to ask your kids what the matter is.

Constant reassurance and outpouring affection help in preventing increased anxiety levels. Also, it would definitely help if we keep calm ourselves. Children are more predisposed to suffering from anxiety attacks if the parents frequently display increased anxiety.

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