There are people who have never experienced a panic attack. However, there are also those who have panic attacks so frequently that they have been diagnosed as having a panic disorder. People with a panic disorder have too many panic attacks and these attacks appear to occur on a continual basis. A panic attack occurs when a person has a surge of fear and anxiety. Such attacks can occur without warning, appearing to emotionally and psychologically paralyze the person. Someone going through a panic attack may feel like there is no survival from the experience. It can cause withdrawal, isolation and a lack of control over one’s life and actions.
Although panic disorders are not common in children, they have been known to experience panic attacks. A child can be fearful or nervous about an item, event, circumstance or person. However, this does not imply that the child is experiencing a panic attack. A panic attack in a child is much more intense than a feeling of fear that can be easily calmed. Panic attacks have a high level of anxiety and the triggers that generate such an attack may be difficult to identify. A child going through a panic attack may cower in fright, perspire and be unable to speak. It can be a very frightening experience for a parent or caretaker because the child could also exhibit signs of being unable to breathe.
Some children grow out of panic attacks. For other children, panic attacks can worsen as they get older. Medical help will determine if there are any other reasons for the panic attacks or if any other illness such as an anxiety disorder exists. Treatments for panic attacks include medication and therapy. Sometimes, a combination of these treatments is required. Therapy can get to the reason behind the panic attacks and is helpful in providing education about the illness. In some cases, holding the child as they have a panic attack can reassure them of support and enable the episode come to an end. With proper treatment, a child can learn to avoid triggers and gain more confidence about being able to handle any attack episode that occurs.