How to Help Your Teen Through a Panic Attack

How to help your teen through a panic attack:

Parents, have you ever felt stuck, hopeless or concerned when your teen is going through a difficult moment that leads to panic? In this blog you will learn 8 different tips and tools you can utilize with your teen and how to help your teen through a panic attack.

Helping your teen through a panic attack is a critical way to support their mental health and well-being. Panic attacks are sudden, intense surges of fear, panic, or anxiety. They can be overwhelming, both for the person experiencing them and for loved ones who are trying to help. Here’s a guide on how to effectively support your teen during these challenging moments:

1. Stay Calm

Your teen will likely look to you for cues on how to react. By staying calm, you provide a sense of safety and stability. Take deep breaths and use a calm, reassuring voice. Your composure can help lessen their panic.

2. Recognize the Signs

Understanding the signs of a panic attack can help you respond more effectively. Symptoms may include rapid heartbeat, sweating, shaking, shortness of breath, feelings of choking, chest pain, nausea, dizziness, and fear of losing control or dying. Recognizing these signs early can help you take swift action to support your teen.

 3. Provide a Safe Space

If possible, help your teen move to a quiet and safe space where they can feel more comfortable. If they’re not ready to move, don’t force them. The goal is to reduce sensory input and create an environment that feels secure.

4. Use Grounding Techniques

Grounding techniques can help distract your teen from the panic and focus on what’s happening in the present. Encourage them to focus on their senses or engage in a simple, grounding exercise. For example, ask them to name five things they can see, four things they can touch, three things they can hear, two things they can smell, and one thing they can taste. This can help lessen the intensity of the panic attack by bringing their attention to the immediate environment.

5. Encourage Deep Breathing

Deep breathing can counteract the hyperventilation that often accompanies panic attacks. Guide your teen through slow, deep breaths. Instruct them to breathe in slowly through the nose for a count of four, hold the breath for a count of four, and then exhale slowly through the mouth for a count of four. This can help reduce symptoms of panic by increasing the carbon dioxide levels in the blood.

6. Listen Without Judgment

After the peak of the panic attack has passed, offer your teen an opportunity to talk about their experience. Listen without judgment and validate their feelings. Avoid dismissing their fear or telling them to “calm down” during the attack, as this can feel dismissive and increase their distress.

7. Seek Professional Help

If panic attacks are frequent or severe, it may be time to seek help from a mental health professional. They can offer therapy, coping strategies, and possibly medication to help manage the panic attacks. Early intervention can make a significant difference in your teen’s quality of life.

8. Educate Yourself and Your Teen

Understanding panic attacks and their triggers can empower both you and your teen. Education can demystify the experience and reduce fear around future attacks. Consider exploring resources together or attending therapy sessions to learn more about managing anxiety and panic.

Conclusion

Witnessing your teen suffer through a panic attack can be heart-wrenching, but your support can make a profound difference in their ability to cope. By staying calm, providing comfort, and utilizing grounding techniques, you can help your teen navigate through these challenging moments. Remember, professional help is available, and with the right strategies and support, your teen can learn to manage their panic attacks effectively.

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