• Alumni
  • Contact
  • Blogs
  • Alumni
  • Admissions
  • Contact

Panic attack in teenagers: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

symptoms of panic attack in teenager

A panic attack is an episode of intense and often overwhelming fear or apprehension that comes on suddenly, often without any clear reason or warning. Symptoms may include a racing heart, trembling or shaking, a sense of impending doom or danger, shortness of breath, chest pain, sweating, and a feeling of being out of control or detached from reality. These symptoms can be so severe that they can be mistaken for a heart attack.

While panic attacks themselves are not life-threatening, they can be very frightening and can significantly affect your quality of life. They can occur as a single episode or may be part of a larger condition known as panic disorder.

Also Read: What are Teen Mood Swings? Causes of Teenage Mood Swings

Causes of panic attacks in teenager

Panic attacks in teenagers can be triggered by several factors, often connected to the changes and pressures that come with adolescence. These may include:

Stress: Teenagers face various sources of stress, including academic pressures, social pressures, and changes in their bodies and hormones. These stressors can trigger panic attacks in some individuals.

Mental Health Disorders: Conditions such as anxiety disorders, depression, and bipolar disorder can increase the likelihood of experiencing panic attacks. If a teenager is already predisposed to these conditions, they may be more likely to experience panic attacks.

Traumatic Events: Experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event can trigger panic attacks. This includes physical or emotional abuse, the death of a loved one, or a severe accident.

Genetics: There’s evidence to suggest that a predisposition to panic attacks and other anxiety disorders may be inherited.

Substance Use: The use of drugs or alcohol, especially in large amounts or over a long period, can trigger panic attacks.

It is important to note that not all teenagers who experience panic attacks have a panic disorder. Panic disorder is a chronic mental health condition that is characterised by recurrent and unexpected panic attacks. If you are concerned that your teenager may be experiencing panic attacks, it is important to talk to a doctor or mental health professional.

Also Read: 5 Reasons Why You Need to Reduce Your Teen’s Screen Time

Symptoms of panic attack in teenager

Panic attacks can manifest in a variety of physical and psychological symptoms. It’s important to note that symptoms can vary from person to person, but they typically peak within 10 minutes and usually last for 20 to 30 minutes. Here are some common symptoms that teenagers may experience during a panic attack:

Palpitations, Pounding Heart, or Accelerated Heart Rate: This may feel like the heart is racing or beating out of rhythm.

Sweating: This can often be excessive and unrelated to physical exertion or the temperature of the environment.

Trembling or Shaking: This can affect the entire body or just certain parts, such as the hands.

Shortness of Breath or a Feeling of Being Smothered: Some individuals may feel as if they can’t get enough air or are being choked.

Chest Pain or Discomfort: This can sometimes be so severe that a panic attack is mistaken for a heart attack.

Nausea or Abdominal Distress: This can range from a general feeling of unease in the stomach to diarrhoea or vomiting.

Feeling Dizzy, Unsteady, Light-Headed, or Faint: These sensations can also lead to a fear of falling or passing out.

Derealisation (Feeling of Unreality) or Depersonalisation (Being Detached from Oneself): This can feel like a dream or as if the world is not real.

Fear of Losing Control or Going Crazy: Some individuals may feel as if they’re losing their minds or completely out of control.

Fear of Dying: This is often a result of the physical symptoms and the intense fear that accompanies a panic attack.

Chills or Hot Flushes: Some individuals may feel suddenly cold or hot during a panic attack.

Also Read: Tips for Parents on How to Deal with Teenage Mood Swings

Panic attack in teenagers: Treatment

Treating panic attacks in teenagers typically involves a combination of therapies, lifestyle changes, and, in some cases, medication. Here’s a closer look at some of the treatment options and coping strategies:

Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT): This is often the first-line treatment for panic attacks and panic disorder. CBT teaches teenagers to understand their fears and how to control or eliminate the negative thoughts that lead to panic attacks. This can involve exposure to the physical sensations of panic in a safe and controlled environment, so they can learn healthier ways of coping.

Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques: These methods can help teens manage stress and reduce symptoms of panic. Techniques can include deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, and meditation. Regular physical activity and adequate sleep can also have a significant positive impact on mental health.

Medication: In some cases, medication may be recommended by a healthcare provider. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and benzodiazepines are commonly used to treat panic disorders. However, all medications have potential side effects and should be taken under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Support Groups: Joining a support group can provide an opportunity for teenagers to connect with others who are experiencing the same struggles. They can share their experiences and learn from each other’s coping strategies.

Healthy Lifestyle: Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can also help to manage panic attacks. This includes eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, ensuring plenty of sleep, and avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and drugs, which can trigger or worsen panic attacks.

Self-Care: Regularly taking time out to self-care, relax and do enjoyable activities can help reduce anxiety and improve mood. This might be listening to music, reading, spending time with friends, or walking in nature.

Education: Understanding panic disorder can help teenagers and their families know what to expect and how to manage it. Learning about the condition can also help them feel less scared or out of control when a panic attack happens.

If a teenager is experiencing panic attacks, it’s important that they reach out to a healthcare provider who can guide them on the most appropriate treatment. It’s also important to remember that it’s okay to ask for help and that with the right support, panic attacks can be effectively managed.

Also Read: Instilling the best social-emotional values in children, in a natural way

Euroschool works to create a supportive and positive school environment that promotes emotional well-being. This includes providing a safe and welcoming space for all students, teaching students about healthy relationships, and promoting coping skills.

Admission Enquiry