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Children & Panic Disorder

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Panic Disorder

"It started 10 years ago, when I had just graduated from college and started a new job. I was sitting in a business seminar in a hotel and this thing came out of the blue. I felt like I was dying.

"For me, a panic attack is almost a violent experience. I feel disconnected from reality. I feel like I'm losing control in a very extreme way. My heart pounds really hard, I feel like I can't get my breath, and there's an overwhelming feeling that things are crashing in on me.

"In between attacks there is this dread and anxiety that it's going to happen again. I'm afraid to go back to places where I've had an attack. Unless I get help, there soon won't be anyplace where I can go and feel safe from panic."

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People with panic disorder have feelings of terror that strike suddenly and repeatedly with no warning. They can't predict when an attack will occur, and many develop intense anxiety between episodes, worrying when and where the next one will strike.

If you are having a panic attack, most likely your heart will pound and you may feel sweaty, weak, faint, or dizzy. Your hands may tingle or feel numb, and you might feel flushed or chilled. You may have nausea, chest pain or smothering sensations, a sense of unreality, or fear of impending doom or loss of control. You may genuinely believe you're having a heart attack or losing your mind, or on the verge of death.

Panic attacks can occur at any time, even during sleep. An attack generally peaks within 10 minutes, but some symptoms may last much longer.

Panic disorder affects about 2.4 million adult Americans1 and is twice as common in women as in men.2 It most often begins during late adolescence or early adulthood.2 Risk of developing panic disorder appears to be inherited.3 Not everyone who experiences panic attacks will develop panic disorder—for example, many people have one attack but never have another. For those who do have panic disorder, though, it's important to seek treatment. Untreated, the disorder can become very disabling.

Many people with panic disorder visit the hospital emergency room repeatedly or see a number of doctors before they obtain a correct diagnosis. Some people with panic disorder may go for years without learning that they have a real, treatable illness.

Panic disorder is often accompanied by other serious conditions such as depression, drug abuse, or alcoholism4,5 and may lead to a pattern of avoidance of places or situations where panic attacks have occurred. For example, if a panic attack strikes while you're riding in an elevator, you may develop a fear of elevators. If you start avoiding them, that could affect your choice of a job or apartment and greatly restrict other parts of your life.

Some people's lives become so restricted that they avoid normal, everyday activities such as grocery shopping or driving. In some cases they become housebound. Or, they may be able to confront a feared situation only if accompanied by a spouse or other trusted person.

Basically, these people avoid any situation in which they would feel helpless if a panic attack were to occur. When people's lives become so restricted, as happens in about one-third of people with panic disorder,2 the condition is called agoraphobia. Early treatment of panic disorder can often prevent agoraphobia.

Panic disorder is one of the most treatable of the anxiety disorders, responding in most cases to medications or carefully targeted psychotherapy.

You may genuinely believe you're having a heart attack, losing your mind, or are on the verge of death. Attacks can occur at any time, even during sleep.

Puberty-Linked Anxieties May Lead to Panic Disorder

Raised sensitivity to body changes can make teens more prone to worry, study suggests

FRIDAY, March 9 (HealthDay News) -- The more an adolescent reacts with anxiety to physical changes during puberty, the more likely they may be to develop panic disorder as they mature, a new U.S. study says.

Researchers at the University of Arkansas and the University of Vermont studied 123 adolescents who were put through a carefully-controlled breathing challenge in the laboratory. Adolescents who were further along in puberty and were rated as being high in anxiety sensitivity were more afraid of the bodily sensations triggered by the three-minute breathing challenge, the researchers found.

Among the adolescents rated as being low in anxiety sensitivity, there was little relationship between their maturity and anxiety response to the breathing challenge.

These, along with the results of previous studies, "suggest that elevations in anxiety sensitivity may potentiate panic-relevant learning that occurs during the course of puberty," the researchers wrote in the study, published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology.

Adolescents who respond anxiously to bodily sensations may "perceive the bodily events that occur during puberty as personally threatening" and "learn to fear bodily sensations, thereby setting the stage for panic development," the researchers noted.

They added that this process of learning to fear bodily sensations may be even more likely to occur when puberty-related bodily experiences happen unexpectedly.

More information

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has more about children and teens.

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the following web links are provided for your convenience in visiting the source sites of the information displayed on this page:

Anxiety Disorders

References

1Narrow WE, Rae DS, Regier DA. NIMH epidemiology note: prevalence of anxiety disorders. One-year prevalence best estimates calculated from ECA and NCS data. Population estimates based on U.S. Census estimated residential population age 18 to 54 on July 1, 1998. Unpublished.

2Robins LN, Regier DA, eds. Psychiatric disorders in America: the Epidemiologic Catchment Area Study. New York: The Free Press, 1991.

3The NIMH Genetics Workgroup. Genetics and mental disorders. NIH Publication No. 98-4268. Rockville, MD: National Institute of Mental Health, 1998.

4Regier DA, Rae DS, Narrow WE, et al. Prevalence of anxiety disorders and their comorbidity with mood and addictive disorders. British Journal of Psychiatry Supplement, 1998; (34): 24-8.

5Kushner MG, Sher KJ, Beitman BD. The relation between alcohol problems and the anxiety disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry, 1990; 147(6): 685-95.

6Wonderlich SA, Mitchell JE. Eating disorders and comorbidity: empirical, conceptual, and clinical implications. Psychopharmacology Bulletin, 1997; 33(3): 381-90.

7Davidson JR. Trauma: the impact of post-traumatic stress disorder. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 2000; 14(2 Suppl 1): S5-S12.

8Margolin G, Gordis EB. The effects of family and community violence on children. Annual Review of Psychology, 2000; 51: 445-79.

9Yehuda R. Biological factors associated with susceptibility to posttraumatic stress disorder. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 1999; 44(1): 34-9.

10Bourdon KH, Boyd JH, Rae DS, et al. Gender differences in phobias: results of the ECA community survey. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 1988; 2: 227-41.

11Kendler KS, Walters EE, Truett KR, et al. A twin-family study of self-report symptoms of panic-phobia and somatization. Behavior Genetics, 1995; 25(6): 499-515.

12Boyd JH, Rae DS, Thompson JW, et al. Phobia: prevalence and risk factors. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 1990; 25(6): 314-23.

13Kendler KS, Neale MC, Kessler RC, et al. Generalized anxiety disorder in women. A population-based twin study. Archives of General Psychiatry, 1992; 49(4): 267-72.

14LeDoux J. Fear and the brain: where have we been, and where are we going? Biological Psychiatry, 1998; 44(12): 1229-38.

15Bremner JD, Randall P, Scott TM, et al. MRI-based measurement of hippocampal volume in combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry, 1995; 152: 973-81.

16Stein MB, Hanna C, Koverola C, et al. Structural brain changes in PTSD: does trauma alter neuroanatomy? In: Yehuda R, McFarlane AC, eds. Psychobiology of posttraumatic stress disorder. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 821. New York: The New York Academy of Sciences, 1997.

17Rauch SL, Savage CR. Neuroimaging and neuropsychology of the striatum. Bridging basic science and clinical practice. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 1997; 20(4): 741-68.

18Gould E, Reeves AJ, Fallah M, et al. Hippocampal neurogenesis in adult Old World primates. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 1999, 96(9): 5263-7.

19Hyman SE, Rudorfer MV. Anxiety disorders. In: Dale DC, Federman DD, eds. Scientific American Medicine. Volume 3. New York: Healtheon/WebMD Corp., 2000, Sect. 13, Subsect. VIII.

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this is simply an informational website concerning emotions & feelings. it does not advise anyone to perform methods -treatments - practice described within, endorse methods described anywhere within or advise any visitor with medical or psychological treatment that should be considered only thru a medical doctor, medical professional, or mental health professional.  in no way are we a medical professional or mental health professional.