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Aug.20.2020
 Managing Panic Attacks, Teen

Managing Panic Attacks, Teen

A panic attack is a sudden and severe episode of anxiety along with physical symptoms like sweating, shaking, and shortness of breath. During a panic attack, you may feel like you are having a heart attack or that you cannot breathe. A panic attack may last 5–10 minutes. These attacks may come on suddenly without any obvious cause and then pass. It is important to know that you can learn ways to manage panic attacks.
If you have frequent panic attacks, you may have a panic disorder. Part of having a panic disorder is being constantly afraid of having another panic attack. Sometimes medicines may be used to treat panic attacks or panic disorder in teens.

How to recognize a panic attack

To be diagnosed with panic attacks, you must have at least four of the following physical or emotional symptoms, and they must start suddenly.
Physical symptoms:
  • Pounding heartbeats, chest pain or pressure, and shortness of breath.
  • A choking sensation.
  • Sweating or redness in the face or chest (hot flushing).
  • Shaking, trembling, or chills.
  • Nausea or indigestion.
  • Dizziness.
  • Numbness and tingling.
Emotional symptoms:
  • Feeling confused or out of body.
  • Fear of dying or going crazy.
  • Worried, nervous, and feeling out of control.
  • Fear of having another panic attack.

How to manage a panic attack

If you have a panic attack, it is important to remember that panic attacks do not last long and are not dangerous. After a panic attack, talk about your fears and anxiety with a parent or another trusted adult. Over time and with support, you can learn ways to manage your panic attacks. Suggestions for managing your anxiety and panic attacks include:
  • Remembering to take deep breaths during a panic attack. You are not in physical danger.
  • Talking to a trusted adult. Sometimes, a friend's parent, a teacher, or a coach will find resources to get you the help you need.
  • Identifying problems you need help fixing, such as being bullied at school.
  • Learning to recognize things that may lead to panic attacks (triggers). Once you know your triggers, talk about them and find new ways to deal with them.
  • Making time to do relaxing activities, such as listening to music or reading.
  • Limiting the amount of time you spend on social media.
  • Being physically active. Exercise is a good way to manage stress and fear. Try going for a walk or getting involved in an organized sport.
  • Finding things that help you relax, like yoga, deep breathing, and meditation.

Follow these instructions at home:

Eating and drinking

  • Eat a healthy diet.
    • Include foods that are high in fiber, such as beans, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
    • Limit foods that are high in fat and processed sugars, such as fried or sweet foods.
  • Limit caffeine.

Activity

  • Do your normal activities as told by your health care provider.
  • Ask your health care provider to suggest some activities.
  • Try activities that reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Be physically active every day.

General instructions

  • Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your health care provider.
  • Get enough sleep and try to keep a regular schedule.
  • Do not smoke or use alcohol or drugs to manage panic attacks.
  • Keep all follow-up visits as told by your health care provider. This is important.

Where to find support

A mental health care provider, like a psychologist or psychiatrist, can help you learn the skills to manage panic attacks.

Where to find more information

Go to these websites to find more information about how to manage panic attacks:

Contact a health care provider if:

  • You keep having panic attacks.
  • You have signs of anxiety or a panic disorder.
  • Your panic attacks interfere with your ability to function at home, at school, or with friends.
  • You are using drugs or alcohol.

Get help right away if:

  • You may be a danger to yourself or others.
  • You have thoughts about death or suicide.
If you ever feel like you may hurt yourself or others, or have thoughts about taking your own life, get help right away. Go to your nearest emergency department or:
  • Call your local emergency services (911 in the U.S.).
  • Call a suicide crisis helpline, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. This is open 24 hours a day in the U.S.
  • Text the Crisis Text Line at 741741 (in the U.S.).

Summary

  • A panic attack is a sudden and severe episode of anxiety along with physical symptoms like sweating, shaking, and shortness of breath.
  • During a panic attack, the most important thing to remember is that panic attacks do not last long and are not dangerous.
  • If you have frequent panic attacks, you may have a panic disorder.
  • It is possible to learn ways to manage panic attacks. Your parents or another trusted adult can help.

This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.

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