Panic attacks in adolescents

Panic disorder is a common and treatable. Children and adolescents with panic disorder experience unexpected and repeated periods of intense fear or discomfort accompanied by other symptoms such as rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath. These periods are called "panic attacks" and last from several minutes to hours. Panic attacks occur without warning. Symptoms of a panic attack include:

• intense terror (a premonition that something terrible is about to occur).
• rapid heart palpitations, tachycardia.
• dizziness or vertigo.
• shortness of breath or suffocation.
• tremors or shaking.
• feeling of unreality.
• fear of dying, of losing control or going crazy.

If not diagnosed and treated, panic disorder and its complications can be devastating. Panic attacks can interfere with social relationships, schoolwork and normal development and in more severe cases, the adolescent may fear leaving home. There are several types of treatment are effective. There are specific medications that can stop panic attacks. Psychotherapy can also help the child and the family learn ways to reduce stress or conflict that can cause an attack.

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