Children suffer from panic and anxiety attacks more often than parents and even teachers may realize. The peer pressure, high expectations, family and friend related tensions – it all contributes to high levels of discomfort, leading to panic attacks. Child experiencing a panic attack often tries to disguise the discomfort, in order to avoid appearing strange or vulnerable. However, there are several behavioral changes that these attacks bring, giving you, as a parent, a chance to recognize the problem before it develops into serious anxiety problems.
One of the common behavioral patterns a child shows is being constantly on guard. The child tries to prevent any surprises and unexpected situations, and his responses are often very short, and angry.
The dietary habits are often abruptly changed during panic and anxiety attacks. Most of the time, the child will eat less, even refuses to eat at all, however, sometimes it may be the opposite reaction and child starts to deal with the pressure by overeating.
The school grades and activities are often the first victims of child’s panic attack. Child finds it impossible to concentrate, and quickly loses interest in relationships, in school and outside. The attention span is very low, and response to criticism and even to motivation from parents and friends is often received with an anger. The activities that used to be their favorite are now neglected and ignored, and the child simply does not find them exciting anymore.
Sleeping problems often follow panic attack, resulting in insomnia and nightmares. Lack of sleep will only further deepens the behavioral problems, as child will become more irritated and angry, while at the same time often completely apathetic to any possible solutions parents, friends, and even specialists may suggest to him.
Though less frequent behavioral change, it is fairly common for a child experiencing panic attacks to speak about death and death related topics. Many times, they talk about the death in first person, as something they wish to experience. The talk about life, on the other hand, is minimal, and only in negative way, talking about the death as the solution to life problem’s. Child can also unexpectedly change his fashion taste, start dressing in black anywhere he goes, even while home.
This is a very serious behavior and should not be ignored! What may seem to you as just a dark talk may be in fact filling up most of the thoughts of the child throughout the day, eventually self-convincing the child that death indeed may be the solution. If you notice this behavior in your child, you must act immediately!
Most people rely on medication when it comes to panic attacks. Children are given variety of medication, ranging from sleeping pills to anti-depressants. You should definitely visit a specialist to help and advise you, but you should always try to first treat the problem, not the symptoms.