How to Recognize and Help a Panic Attack in Teens

Sweaty palms, shaking, hyperventilating–these are the signs of a panic attack. For some parents, dealing with a panic attack in teens can seem impossible. If you’ve never dealt with one yourself, it’s hard to help another person–especially your child–get through it without becoming stressed out yourself.

Teens with anxiety are probably fairly familiar with panic attacks; they’re one of the main symptoms of anxiety disorders. If your child deals with anxiety, there are some steps you can take to help when they’re in the midst or on the brink of a panic attack.

Tips for how to help a panic attack in teens

panic attack in teensFirst of all, whether you’re with them in person or on the phone, it’s important to tell your child this is a panic attack and they’ll get through it. Telling them they’re fine often doesn’t help anything because they certainly don’t feel fine in the moment–for them, it feels like a dead end. Recognize this as a real thing and move forward from there.

  • Calming, gentle physical contact. Some physical contact can help an individual experiencing a panic attack ground themselves back in the present moment again. This can be holding them, holding their hand–whatever you can do in the moment.
  • Make eye contact, focus on the breath. Get them to look at you and tell them to breathe with you and try to breathe on your rhythm. This gives them something to focus on. Also, when you slow down your breathing to someone else’s, it can help your nervous system reset.
  • Stay calm. You need to be their rock in this volatile moment. If you begin to panic, it will only increase their panic. Even if you’re panicking on the inside, keep a calm exterior for their sake–then afterwards you can have your time to relax.

What to do when it’s over the phone

First, tell them to get to a quiet place. You’re not going to be able to talk them down from anything if they’re in a crowded loud area. Once they’re there, start with a few large, slow, big breaths. Then begin telling them this is a panic attack and they’ll get through it in a soothing voice.

Always maintain calmness as you do in person during a panic attack. Begin asking them to take deep breaths and to explain their surroundings. What does it smell like where they are? What does it look like? Getting them to talk through these things can ground them back in the moment and calm them down.

Overall, if you believe your son or daughter is seriously struggling with anxiety, it’s critical to reach out. Professionals are available to help walk you through what’s best for your family.

Elevations is here for your family

Elevations RTC is a residential treatment center for teens, ages 13 to 18. Our students often grapple with anxiety, trauma, depression, ADHD, and other emotional or behavioral issues.

As one of the leading residential treatment schools for troubled teens, we use a combination of a focused therapeutic lens, real-world environment, secure setting, and caring staff to foster growth and success in our students. Finding the right program can be difficult for a family, which is why Elevations is here to help guide you through it.

For more information about how we deal with a panic attack in teens at Elevations RTC, please call (855) 290-9681.

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