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18Sep/111

Panic Attacks at School: A Growing Problem for Teenagers

Why Panic Attacks at School are a Problem

Panic attacks at school usually come out of the blue. A teenager might be sitting in class, and suddenly she'll begin to experience shortness of breath, heart palpitations, nausea, and a feeling of choking. She may feel that something horrible and embarrassing is about to happen if she can't get out of the classroom immediately.

But what is there to do? The most difficult thing about this situation is that she may not feel that she can go to her teacher with this problem. Particularly if she's experienced these attacks before, she knows that going to the school clinic won't accomplish anything. Maybe the only thing that would help would be to go outside and get fresh air, which is a problem because many schools simply would not allow her to do this during class time.

And then there's the fact that, if she did go to her teacher with her problem, the teacher might not buy her story. Teachers, particularly high school teachers, are used to kids acting up and trying to find ways to skip out of class. This can make teachers reluctant to take kids seriously when it comes to things like panic attacks.

Suffering in Secret

Many children and teenagers simply don't understand that issues like panic attacks are serious psychological conditions that need treatment. They may feel that they are "bad" for having these problems, and when the potential of social stigmatization enters the picture, it becomes easy to understand why many teenagers keep their problem a secret.

To make matters worse, some parents are equally uninformed about these issues. Like teachers, they may suspect that a child complaining about panic attacks at school probably has ulterior motives and is maybe just trying to get out of school. Teenagers will be aware of this communication barrier, which may lead them to suffer in secret.

Panic Attacks at School Lead to Lifelong Problems

When a teenager suffers these panic attacks in secret, she may develop an intense aversion to school. She may try to get out of school by faking an illness, cutting class, or hiding. In some cases, she'll do anything but admit that she has panic attacks. And if parents catch on to her behavior, they may interpret it as laziness or rebelliousness.

All of these things can lead to a situation where a teenager's education suffers, she doesn't get the treatment she needs, and her relationship with her parents may become tense. And perhaps the worst part is that her panic disorder goes untreated, which can have devastating consequences. In the immediate future, her problem may cause her to act out in increasingly serious ways. In the distant future, she may develop more serious panic attacks in adulthood.

Treating panic attacks in teenagers can be very similar to treatment for adults. The main focus is to break the cycle of fear that causes attacks to happen again and again. This can be done without medication, but it usually requires parental support.



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