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Panic Disorders Article

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Panic Disorders in Children


Children are little people who have the same emotional and physical make-ups as adults. The problem is children are not able to self-diagnose their problems and often have a hard time communicating what’s happening to them. Panic disorders in children are more common than believed, but are often misdiagnosed as hyperactivity or attention deficit disorder. A young child knows he or she is worried all the time, but can’t associate the anxiety with anything going on in his or her life.

Panic disorders in children are so common they have been identified by type. The first type is called avoidance disorder. With this disorder, your son or daughter may refuse to have any contact with someone they don’t know. The problem is differentiating between normal shyness and the presence of a disorder. There will be clues though that the child is worrying excessively. For example, your child may start talking constantly long before the event about fears of going somewhere where there will be new people to meet. The child is making it obvious that he or she is having nonstop anxious thoughts.

Another one of the types of panic disorders in children is called separation anxiety. This type of anxiety is commonly manifested as refusing to let go of mom, even possibly having a tantrum, on the school steps. Usually, a child will outgrow this type of anxiety, but not always. When the anxiety results in the child being unable to perform in school or socially, it’s become a disorder. In this case, professional counseling is advised. Other manifestations of the separation anxiety include an abnormal fear of getting lost or making a mistake.

The third type of anxiety seen in panic disorders in children is called overanxious disorder. These children worry about everything including the past and the future. Often the child will complain about having a stomach ache because of worry.

The biggest problem with panic disorders in children is the fact they often can’t precisely tell you what they are thinking or feeling. Parents have to determine if there’s a pattern of behavior and then determine if the pattern is serious enough to warrant professional help. Some anxiety is very normal in childhood. The first day of school is scary and meeting a new adult can be overwhelming. But if the 150th day of school is still scary and a child refuses to come out of the bedroom because someone new is in the house, there’s obviously a more serious problem.

Anytime there’s concern about panic disorders in children, it’s wise to talk to your pediatrician or family doctor. It’s always better to diagnose panic disorders as early as possible so treatment can be instituted. These may include soothing anti-anxiety music and words on CD, counseling sessions and lots of love and understanding. Most children can overcome panic disorders if they’re caught early enough.


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