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A child panic attack can be a very serious and frightening matter, both for the child and for the parents. In this brief article, I will outline some of the facts around a child panic attack and decipher some clues as to what parents can do for their children in this frightening and confusing time. Children experience emotional issues such as panic and anxiety much differently than adults, so education is as important as anything when dealing with this situation.
Children and teenagers experience panic attacks and often develop fears of going places because of this. They fear that should they engage in an activity, a panic attack may occur and embarrass them. There are many different types of child panic attack disorders.
GAD – Generalized Anxiety Disorder
GAD is an anxiety disorder that is generally known by the patient experiencing excessive worrying about a series of events. These events can either be in the past, in the present, or in the future so the time has little to do with the amount of “logical worry” that is applied. Sometimes children or teens worry about past events, conversations they may have had, upcoming events, school, friends, family, functions or any other possibility. Typically a child experiencing GAD cannot control the amount of time spent worrying about such things.
The best way known to treat GAD is through relaxation techniques and therapy. Generally talking children out of their worrying can work wonders, but a trained mental health physician is usually the best prepared to encounter such a disorder. Children are taught to use positive self-talk instead of the discouraging words of worry and are taught to generate a dialogue with others to explore their feelings. This child panic attack disorder does not generally have a prescribed medication.
Separation Anxiety Disorder
Children may experience panic when they are separated from loved ones or comfortable situations that they are used to. This generally applies to younger children who are separated from parents. The threat of separation from a caregiver often results in anxiety and occurs in cases such as when the child is left with a babysitter on a parents’ evening out on the town.
The child may avoid activities that result in separation from its caregivers and may worry excessively about the caregiver when they are gone. Normally the therapy involved includes recognition of these emotions and a good dose of reality: that nothing wrong happens, etc. Children are also taught coping skills to deal with the separation, often through role playing.