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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Proper methods for controlling panic attacks in teenagers

by Joseph P. Landry


Panic attacks affect more people in the world today than at any other time in history.   Add teenagers to this list as well.  More kids, from the age range of 13-19 have experienced this emotional disorder during their young lives compared to the past.  Without proper treatment, many of these teenagers would continue to have problems after they entered adulthood.  Attention needs to be given in establishing proper methods for controlling panic attacks in teenagers. 
 The causes, (or triggers) for panic attacks in teenagers are more likely different than those that occur in adults.  For adults, the trigger for attacks could be the impending loss of a job; the sudden reduction in income leading to the possibility that a family could lose their home.  A high percentage of adults, without proper treatment, have difficulty in dealing with their attacks.  This disorder can be even more devastating to teenagers for a simple reason:  Due to the emotional and physical immaturity of kids that age, they are even less capable in dealing with these attacks compared to adults. 
 Attacks taking place with teenagers could be triggered by self-imposed pressures dealing with succeeding and achieving high grades in school.   The teenager who takes his/her academics extremely serious may be looking at attending a prestigious university after high school.  Now more than ever, there is fierce competition to get into a Harvard, Yale, Duke, or Stanford University.  The notion of having a successful career as an adult is predicated on getting a college degree, (or degrees), a philosophy that is being drilled into kids with alarming regularity of late.   Many teenagers in high school consider every test and term paper to be of extreme importance.  With many serious academic students, the notion of receiving grades below an “A” marking is unacceptable to their thinking.  Consequently, these teenagers put undo pressure on themselves to succeed; staying ahead of the perceived competition. 
 The stress of studying for exams, SAT tests, and turning in papers deserving of high grades can get completely out of control, and these kids are ill-equipped to handle their emotions in the quest for success.  Panic sets in when the student feels that receiving a possible grade of “B” in a calculus class would completely mess up his/her GPA.  Is it any wonder why panic attacks now occur with higher frequency in this age group than even a generation ago?
 As adults and parents (or educators) of teenagers, it is imperative that we keep an eye out for kids in that age group.  Teenagers often do not voluntarily seek out help from older adults, unless there is a built in trust factor within the relationship.  Likewise, teenagers who experience panic attacks because of a high level of stress occurring in their lives would also tend to keep any problems to themselves, initially.
 Behavior modification techniques, not prescription medication would be the long term method in controlling panic attacks in teenagers.  Pills prescribed by a doctor would temporarily treat the symptoms of panic attacks:  pain in the chest or stomach, elevated blood pressure, sweaty palms, and extreme nervousness being amongst the visible signs.  Any medication however, simply cannot get to the root cause(s) as to why these attacks take place within the individual.
 Instead behavior modification techniques involving relaxation exercises should be employed with the individual.  Slow breathing exercises, getting involved with meditation, or yoga have been proven to be able to lower the level of anxiety and stress within the individual.  Other behavior modification techniques involving physical exercise as well as engaging in hobbies serve important purposes with regards to treating panic attacks as well.  Physical exercise benefits our cardiovascular system and releases endorphins, (bad toxins) that cause stress in the body.  Hobbies serve to focus our thoughts on other activities besides the triggers that lead to panic attacks. 
Yes, the teenager who spends his/her life focusing on his academics 24/7 would be encouraged to get involved with yoga, ride a bike, play sports in school, or devote time in their schedule in listening to relaxing music.  One other thing, it isn’t such a bad idea that teenagers actually spend some time playing video games; if for no other reason then to have their minds on a leisure activity every now and then.

Panic attacks in teenagers have grown statistically within the past ten years.  Society, adults in particular need to take a more caring approach to helping kids of that age to control these attacks.  If you as a parent are unsure what to do, there is a reputable site that has successfully helped people world-wide control this disorder.  The site can be found at:
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1 comment:

  1. Use scaling to get yourself ‘outside of’ the panic attack. Know how your emotional brain works, so you understand what is happening during a panic attack.