Panic attacks in children occur quite often. However, it is not unusual for them to be overlooked. If not considered serious panic attacks can be neglected and progress into more severe psychological problems. Panic attacks in children interfere in relationship with their peers, their performance at school and in severe cases may also interfere in everyday activities. The child generally avoids situations that induce panic attacks and may become asocial.
Causes of Panic Attacks in Children
Many parents believe that childhood is the magical period of a child's life and that children can be saved from many bad situations and problems that normally affect adults. They are definitely wrong. Namely, even children have their own problems and deal with stressful situations.
Many children are under constant pressure to be smarter, more athletic, they are forced to be competitive and successful in all undertakings. If they fail they will have to face criticism from their parents or other children.
Panic attacks in children may also be the consequence of unpleasant family relationships and be induced by certain traumatic events such as divorce or sibling rivalry. Many children succeed and cover their feelings of anxiety. On the other hand, some children do show symptoms and signs of both, anxiety and panic attacks.
Symptoms and Signs of Panic Attacks in Children
Children are simply unable to verbalize their level of anxiety. Fortunately, there are physical symptoms and signs which can point to the presence of anxiety and make parents think the child is suffering from panic attacks.
The symptoms and signs of panic attacks in children are actually the same as the one in adults. They include rapid heart beat, shortness of breath, a feeling of suffocating, dizziness, nausea, trembling and an overwhelming feeling of fear.
Apart from these obvious symptoms and signs there are also signs that indirectly point to the presence of panic attacks and anxiety. For example, a child may be unreasonably angry, sad or violent. He/ she may sleep too much or not enough. Furthermore, there may be frequent mood changes, loss of appetite etc. Parents may fail to recognize panic attacks and even write them off as demands for attention.
Treatment for Panic attacks in Children
The treatment for panic attacks in children does not differ from the one in adults. In case parents assume their child is suffering from panic attacks they are due to consult a doctor. The doctor will recommend healthy diet, regular exercise, plenty of sleep and may also suggest breathing and relaxation techniques. Medications may be required as well. Psychotherapy is highly effective in children suffering from panic attacks. One more treatment option is the cognitive behavioral therapy.