The MHS Journals

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Symptoms & Treatments for Teenage Panic Attacks

May 28, 2024

Panic Attack in Teens 

As a parent, it can be distressing to witness your teen experiencing panic attacks. Understanding the science behind these episodes can help you better support your child during these difficult moments. When the body perceives a threat, the brain releases adrenaline to prepare for either fighting or fleeing. This response is crucial for survival, but when it occurs in the absence of real danger, it can lead to overwhelming feelings of panic. Your teen may feel like they are in imminent danger even though there is no actual threat present.

If your teen is experiencing panic attacks frequently and without any apparent cause, it could be a sign of panic disorder. It is important to seek professional help in such cases to ensure that your teen receives the necessary support and treatment. Remember that panic attacks are not a sign of weakness or something that can simply be brushed off – they require understanding, patience, and professional intervention. By educating yourself about panic attacks and how they manifest in teens, you can better assist your child in managing their symptoms and navigating through this challenging experience. Your unwavering support and guidance can make all the difference in helping your teen cope with their panic attacks effectively and move towards healing and recovery.

How to Identify Panic Attacks in Teenagers

Panic disorder is a mental health condition that can affect teenagers just as much as it does adults. When experiencing a panic attack, teens may exhibit signs and symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, and feelings of impending doom or loss of control. These physical symptoms can be quite distressing for adolescents who may not understand what is happening to them. Additionally, teens with panic disorder may also display behavioral changes, such as avoiding certain situations that trigger their panic attacks or seeking reassurance from others repeatedly.

Mentally, teenagers with panic disorder may experience intense fear or anxiety that can be overwhelming and debilitating. They may have racing thoughts, difficulty concentrating, or feel disconnected from reality during a panic attack. It is important for parents and caregivers to recognize the signs and symptoms of panic disorder in teens so they can seek appropriate treatment and support. With proper intervention, teenagers with panic disorder can learn coping mechanisms to manage their symptoms and lead fulfilling lives.

How to Treat a Teen With Panic Attacks

Treatment for teens with panic disorder can vary depending on the severity of their symptoms and how much it is impacting their daily lives. One common method of treatment is medication, with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and benzodiazepines being commonly prescribed to adolescents and teenagers suffering from panic attacks. SSRIs have been shown to be effective in treating panic disorder in teens, but they do take some time to become effective, typically around three to six weeks. On the other hand, benzodiazepines provide immediate relief of panic symptoms and are often prescribed as needed, meaning the individual can take them when they feel a panic attack coming on.

In addition to medication, therapy can also be an effective form of treatment for teens with panic disorder. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has been found to be particularly helpful in treating panic attacks by teaching individuals coping strategies and helping them identify and change negative thought patterns that contribute to their anxiety. Exposure therapy, another form of therapy, involves gradually exposing the individual to situations that trigger their panic attacks in a controlled environment, helping them learn how to manage their fear and anxiety responses.

Contact Us Today for Adolescent Therapy

MHS is dedicated to providing a safe and supportive environment for teens and adolescents struggling with severe mental health disorders. We offer a comprehensive range of therapeutic services, including individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, and more. We believe in treating the whole person, addressing not only the symptoms of their mental health disorder but also the underlying causes and contributing factors.

Some things are too big, too heavy, too hard, and too much for all of us, including our teens. There’s nothing simple or automatic about growing up and understanding oneself—most of us work at it our entire lives. At MHS, we tailor DBT to fit young people and your young person. Please Contact Us today!

Image Credit: Tero Vesalainen / Shutterstock