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What Are the Signs of a Panic Disorder?

a teen sits on a bed holding his head, one of the signs of a panic disorder

It’s natural to worry about your children as they navigate the difficult teenage years. But when your teenager experiences extreme bouts of fear and anxiety that seem out of proportion to the situation at hand, you may wonder if something more serious is going on. Panic disorder, a type of anxiety disorder, affects many teenagers. The signs of panic disorder aren’t always clear, but spotting them can allow you to find the help they need.

Family First offers adolescent panic disorder treatment at our residential center in South Florida. Call 888.904.5947 to get help now.

What Is Panic Disorder?

Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by recurring, unexpected panic attacks. Panic attacks are sudden episodes of intense fear or discomfort that peak within minutes. However, experiencing a panic attack does not necessarily mean your teenager has a panic disorder. The key distinguishing factor is the frequency of these attacks and the worry about having more attacks.

The constant worry or dread that comes along with panic disorder can cause your teenager to avoid certain situations or activities, leading to further anxiety and isolation from peers. This may result in poor school performance, difficulty socializing, and a decrease in overall quality of life.

Signs and Symptoms of Panic Disorder in Teens

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of a panic disorder can be challenging as they can vary from one individual to another. However, there are common physical, emotional, and cognitive signs that are typically associated with this disorder.

Physical Signs of Panic Disorder in Teens

Physical signs include:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Feeling short of breath
  • Experiencing nausea or upset stomach
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Feeling like you are choking
  • Hot flashes or chills

Most of the physical signs of a panic disorder are directly related to panic attacks. Meanwhile, the emotional and cognitive signs are often present even when an attack isn’t happening.

Emotional Signs of Panic Disorder

Emotional signs usually involve:

  • Intense feelings of fear or apprehension
  • A sense of impending doom or danger
  • Feelings of being out of control
  • Extreme worry or dread
  • Irritability or agitation
  • Feelings of detachment from oneself or reality

These feelings are often intensified during a panic attack and can lead to worsened confusion, distress, and fear.

Cognitive Signs of Panic Disorder

Cognitive signs involve:

  • Racing thoughts
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing
  • Inability to make decisions
  • Memory problems
  • Negative or catastrophic thinking
  • Difficulty coping with uncertainty

The longer a panic disorder goes unmanaged, the more severe these signs may become. It is essential to recognize and address these symptoms early on to prevent them from impacting your teenager’s daily life and overall well-being.

Why Do Teens Get Panic Disorder?

There is no single cause of panic disorder, and it can develop in anyone regardless of age, gender, or background. However, there are several factors that may increase the risk of developing this disorder in teenagers, including:

  • Genetics – A family history of anxiety or panic disorder can increase the chances of developing the condition.
  • Traumatic experiences – Teens who have experienced a traumatic event, such as abuse or a serious accident, may develop panic disorder as a way to cope with the trauma.
  • Stressful life events – Adolescence is a time of significant changes and challenges, which can be overwhelming and trigger panic attacks.
  • Biological factors – Some studies suggest that differences in brain chemistry or structure may play a role in the development of panic disorder.

Panic disorder is not just overreacting or being dramatic about everyday worries. It is a serious mental health condition that requires proper diagnosis and treatment. If you suspect your teenager may have panic disorder, professional help can address their symptoms and improve their quality of life.

Call Family First Adolescent Services for Help

We understand the importance of early intervention and effective treatment for panic disorder in teens. Our residential center in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, offers a comprehensive and personalized program for teen boys aged 13-18.

With a staff-to-client ratio of 3:1 and more than 120 years of combined clinical experience, we will help your teen explore and understand their underlying issues, develop healthy coping mechanisms, and learn essential life skills. Contact Family First online or call 888.904.5947 today and find the support your teen needs.