Panic attacks seem to be unbearable for teens, not only during an attack, but also leading up to one. In fact, one of the most debilitating symptoms of panic attacks is the anxiety that comes with not knowing when another panic is going to happen. In fact, pre-panic anxiety is one of the clinical symptoms known to accompany what is called Panic Disorder.
Panic Disorder includes the consistent experience of attacks as well as a persistent concern about having additional attacks. Typically, teens with this disorder are extremely anxious and fearful, primarily because of the inability to predict when the next attack will occur. Attacks are often accompanied by a feeling of being out of control and include uncomfortable physical sensations, such as a pounding heart, sweating, weakness, dizziness, and numbness. An intense worry about the next attack is a common symptom that makes Panic Disorder difficult to manage.
However, fortunately, teens who suffer from Panic Disorder can be treated. Both medication and psychotherapy, or a combination of the two, have been used successfully to reduce the intensity of anxiety as well as the frequency of panic attacks. Medication for treating anxiety disorders often includes anti-anxiety medication and even anti-depressants. Although antidepressants are incredibly effective, they do come with risks. For teens in particular, it is essential to know that anti-depressants can cause suicidal thoughts and even attempts at suicide. Of course, anyone taking psychotropic medication should be closely monitored, especially at the beginning of treatment.
It should be noted that adolescents who suffer from this disorder are more likely to also suffer from depression, suicidal thoughts, and addiction. As you can imagine the level of anxiety that stem from the attacks as well as not knowing when another attack might take place can lead to extreme psychological discomfort. Because of this teens might want to escape through drugs and alcohol or through suicide. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 2.3% of 13 to 18 year olds have been diagnosed with Panic Disorder.
There are a few ways in which teens can manage the anxiety, if they are not already through anti-anxiety medication and psychotherapy. For instance, you suffer from Panic Disorder, or from panic attacks, you can help him or her with the following:
- Begin to identify when a panic attack is about to occur. Although it might be challenging, you might be able to identify signs that an attack is imminent. If you’re able to identify an oncoming attack, you can take steps to make it less severe. For instance, you can stop what you’re doing and breathe. Or you can go somewhere to avoid embarrassment that might come from being in a group.
- In fact, the environment might be the actual trigger for an attack. This is another reason to change your environment when you feel an attack coming on. Often, it is something in your surroundings that may be causing an anxiety attack, such as a person, a noise, or a place. Eliminate the anxiety trigger as best you can. You can do this between attacks by trying to identify what your triggers are.
- Focus on your breathing. Take long, slow, and deep breaths. Inhale and exhale to the count of four seconds. This extended breathing does two things. It relaxes the body and it directs your attention on your body and instead of the thoughts in your mind that will likely only exacerbate the attack.
- Recite a prayer, mantra, or even the alphabet in your mind. The point here is that you want to change your thinking. Commonly, it is a thought or a thinking pattern that began the attack in the first place.
These are a few ways to reduce the anxiety that accompany teen Panic Disorder. Furthermore, there are relaxation techniques that you can practice on a regular basis that can also help reduce the overall level of anxiety that you feel. Most of all it’s important to know that you don’t have to suffer through Panic Disorder alone. There are many tools to utilize in order to reduce the anxiety and even eliminate the attacks altogether.