Panic attacks are sudden episodes of fear that tend to occur out of the blue when no threat occurs. While many teens may have experienced one panic attack during a stressful time that never repeated itself, some teens experience recurrent panic attacks. Recurrent panic attacks are a symptom of a panic disorder. More than 3 million Americans will experience a panic disorder, which often begins in childhood or adolescence. Panic disorders also can be genetic. If you’re suffering from frequent panic attacks, our adolescent treatment center can help. Contact Foothills at Red Oak today at 866.300.5275 for more information.
Triggers and Symptoms of Panic Attacks
Panic attacks typically occur without warning. They usually include these signs and symptoms:
- Sense of impending doom or that something terrible is happening
- Rapid, pounding heart rate and chest pain
- Fear of death or loss of control
- Sense of unreality
- Trembling or shaking
- Hot flashes
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, or faintness
- Shortness of breath or tightness in your throat
- Nausea and abdominal cramping
- Numbness or tingling sensation
A person’s temperament and genetic makeup affect how they handle anxiety and can contribute to one person being more susceptible to panic attacks than another person. Triggers of an attack will vary with the individual and their life experiences. Some common triggers are drug use, stressful events, conflict, and other medical conditions.
The use of drugs, particularly marijuana, can contribute to panic attacks and the start of a panic disorder. For this reason, doctors recommend that those teens who have family members with panic disorders avoid marijuana and similar drugs. Some over-the-counter medications, such as weight loss drugs, also contribute to panic attacks in some people. Excessive use of caffeine or tobacco use also can be triggers for some teens. When someone has a substance use addiction, withdrawal from the substance also can trigger these attacks.
For those prone to panic attacks, certain events also can be triggers. For example, situations of significant loss, such as death or divorce, might cause an attack. A serious illness of a loved one or a traumatic event such as having been sexually abused or being involved in a serious accident might also contribute to a panic attack. If a teen has had a bad experience speaking before the class, they may experience a panic attack when asked to do so again. In some cases, even a smell or a visit to a particular place can trigger a panic attack if it reminds a person subconsciously of past trauma or fear.
For some teens, experiencing conflict with others can trigger a panic attack. The emotional distance may feed fears that the teen is not valued, worthy, or loved. Often the longer the conflict lingers, and the worse the separation, the greater the panic becomes.
Learn More at Foothills at Red Oak
Panic attack disorder is treatable, but early diagnosis and treatment are essential for avoiding additional complications such as depression. Sometimes teens and their parents can prevent these attacks by learning how to control their breathing when they feel themselves beginning to panic, avoiding drugs that trigger attacks, and learning relaxation and meditation techniques.
Some teens, however, will require treatment in a mental health facility. Foothills at Red Oak Recovery is a holistic adolescent healing program on a 94-acre horse farm in Ellenboro, N.C. We provide psychological testing and group, individual, family, and experiential therapy. Each member of our clinical team is a master’s level clinician. We can help your teen gain freedom from panic attacks and be able to achieve their dreams. To learn more, contact us today at 866.300.5275.