Panic attacks are common in adults and can be easily recognized. Most adults are aware of their panic attacks and can often feel them coming right before they happen.
If you frequently get panic attacks then you probably have figured out what triggers them too which means you are on the lookout for situations that can induce them and try to avoid such situations.
However, panic attacks are also experienced by children and they may lack this level of self-awareness to identify triggers. Thus, managing symptoms can be hard for parents.
Here is how you can recognize a panic disorder in children and manage its symptoms when the time comes:
- Sudden Stomach Pain Or Nausea
If you have ever been around children, you will notice that they will start to complain about feeling sick or feeling a sudden stomach ache when they are put in an anxious situation.
While this is a coping mechanism for many children as sickness is an excuse to not do something that makes them anxious, it can be a symptom of a real panic attack too.
Mental terror and fear can materialize in the form of stomach cramps and can induce nausea in children.
- Crying Uncontrollably
Kids cry a lot and for many different reasons. However, a toddler’s tantrum may not always just be a tantrum and can even be a sign of a panic attack.
When children feel that they are no longer in control of a situation or their feelings about what is to come, they can resort to crying as their last option.
Children cry often which is why it might be hard to detect panic-induced crying. You can get counseling to help identify other symptoms that accompany a sudden outburst to be able to differentiate between a panic attack and a tantrum.
- Dizziness And Fainting
While it may seem less probable that you can faint from a panic attack as it is a mental issue, it is entirely possible and extremely common.
Although anxious thoughts and mental feelings do not directly cause the child to faint, anxious thoughts can leave them breathless. When they struggle to breathe, the flow of oxygen is obstructed in their entire body and their legs may start to give out.
This lack of oxygen can easily lead to dizziness and even fainting if the breathing pattern does not return to normal soon.
- Racing Heartbeat And Intense Fear
As mentioned above, panic attacks can cause irregular breathing.
This can be in combination with or caused by a racing heartbeat. This is the type of a racing heartbeat that you can hear in your ears which might cause the anxiety level to increase even further.
This anxiety can turn into real intense fear within seconds and can cause a child to lose all control of their emotions or their sense of reality. It activates their ‘fight or flight’ response and can result in permanent trauma that haunts them for years after the episode.
- Frequent Episodes
While panic attacks can last for several minutes and even stretch to an hour, they can be a one-off event.
However, if your child starts experiencing panic attacks frequently and is having a hard time getting through them then they most likely are suffering from panic disorder.
As a parent, you need to take note of the frequency, timing, and severity of panic attacks to get the right treatment for your child.
All in all, panic attacks are harder to identify in children as they are not always able to express how they feel with complete certainty.
To avoid any long-term developmental damage, look out for the above symptoms that may indicate the need for panic disorder treatment and help your child develop healthy habits to manage their symptoms.