Someone with a panic disorder can experience absolutely crippling attacks of apprehension that may include dizziness, heart palpitations, trembling, shaking, and more, seemingly at random. When that someone is your teenage child, you may be as frightened as he is when it happens. You're probably also desperate to find ways to get the panic attacks under control. Here are a few things to try.
1.) Keep the home environment free of triggers.
One way to get panic attacks under control is to eliminate their source. Most people with panic attacks have certain "triggers" that can set them off. For example, it could be loud noises or groups of unfamiliar people. Try to identify what triggers are likely to set off the panic attacks in your child and plan ahead to keep your home as trigger-free as possible. It may mean putting the game room in the basement, far away from your child's bedroom, or letting your child go to his or her room when you have company.
2.) Talk to your child's doctor about medication.
There's nothing wrong with having to rely on medication from time to time to control the panic attacks. Talk to your child's doctor about the possibility. If the panic attacks seem to be the result of chronic anxiety, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), like Paxil or Prozac, may be appropriate. If the panic attacks are intermittent, a benzodiazepine like Valium or Xanax might work.
3.) Establish a "safe" space.
Both at home and at school, your teen needs to have the ability to step out of a situation that's starting to induce a panic attack and retreat to a safe space. At home, you can designate his or her room as a safe space that he or she can go to in order to try to get the feelings of panic under control. Work with your teen's school to establish a safe space that your teen can use when a panic attack is coming on and ask permission for him or her to leave the classroom when necessary. You may have to go through the process of developing an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) in order to do this, but it could be worth the effort.
4.) Get an emotional support animal.
Emotional support animals can be any domesticated animal—although dogs and cats are common. They don't have to have special training because their presence alone can bring the sort of calming comfort that your teen needs in order to keep the panic attacks away. Your child's therapist can provide the documentation that you need to have the animal registered as an emotional support animal. While ESA certification does allow you to keep the animal even in no-pet housing, it won't automatically allow your teen to take the animal into places of business the way that is done with a service dog. Contact an ESA evaluation service to learn more.
Dealing with panic attacks can be a frustrating experience for both you and your teen, but a combination of accommodations and treatment can help get them under control.Share