Is Your Teenager at Risk for Panic Attacks?

by on September 10, 2014

Teen Panic

Panic disorder is an anxiety condition characterized by unexpected panic attacks.

According to the Mayo Clinic Web site, a panic attack is “a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause.” Most people who have panic disorder start to experience attacks before they reach their mid-twenties.

The frequency of panic attacks can vary from person to person. For instance, some people may experience a panic attack every few weeks, while some people may have several attacks a day.

For a teenager going through emotional and physical changes, a panic attack could be deeply unsettling. Panic attacks can cause a great deal of discomfort; the physical symptoms include racing heart, dizziness, and feeling like one is choking.

In an article titled “Predictors of Panic Attacks in Adolescents,” (Dr. Hayward et al.), researchers studied potential factors that may put some teens at higher risk for panic attacks. The researchers examined more than 2,000 teenagers to evaluate the following traits’ effects on likelihood to develop panic attacks:

  • negative affectivity (a tendency to experience negative emotions more often than most people and to hold negative views of the world)
  • female sex
  • anxiety sensitivity (being more prone to anxiety than the general population)
  • childhood separation anxiety disorder

The results of the study showed that negative affectivity and anxiety sensitivity both seemed to be linked to the teens developing panic attacks. This implies that teenagers who tend to dwell on negative emotions and suffer from frequent anxiety may be more likely than their peers to have panic attacks.

Treatment for Panic Attacks

Teenagers (and adults) who suffer from panic attacks may benefit from self-treatment or professional treatment with a licensed mental health worker. Sometimes combining self-treatment and professional treatment can yield the best results.

One option people with panic attacks have for self-treatment is changing their diet. By eliminating or limiting certain foods from their diet, some people see a decrease in severity or frequency of their panic attacks. Common foods that have been reported to trigger panic attacks include caffeine and sugar. Replacing these foods with healthier ones like fresh vegetables may lead to improvement in panic symptoms.

Attending therapy with a mental health professional may also help with anxiety and panic symptoms. A therapist can share strategies for staying calm and also help the person to cope with stressful issues that may be contributing to the panic attacks.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Lemuel September 15, 2014 at 4:47 am

Nice article you have here. It is very informative and useful. Panic attacks can be very debilitating not just for teenagers but for everyone but it can be overcome as always with a strong support system.

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Human March 3, 2016 at 12:01 am

I am the very same way. It’s just something that hanpeps all the time and I can’t seem to control it. I was put on an anti-depressant for my anxiety and that really seemed to help. I wouldn’t recommend it but there are many meds out the for Anxiety. I would definetly go see a doctor and talk to them about it. If not then Eating healthy and working out seems to help too. Good Luck and I hope your anxiety settles down.

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