Panic Disorder in Children May Lead in Suicidal Behavior

by Vlasta Kuster

Panic disorder in children can lead to severe anxiety and it can also affect other parts of a child’s mood or functioning.

It usually doesn’t affect children younger than 13 years old or before they enter the puberty. The disorder is more common among adolescents.

A family history of different types of disorders represents a risk factor for the development of panic disorder. Respiratory problems like asthma also confer a risk for the development of the mentioned disorder and on the other hand panic attacks can trigger an asthma attack

Talking about different types of disorders we can expose

A child with a panic disorder suffers

  • sudden anxiety attacks, unexpected, and
  • repeated periods of intense fear or discomfort which can cause
  • feelings of impending death, heart attack-like symptoms or a disconnection from reality.

Panic Attack Symptoms in Kids

During the panic attack a child experiences somatic, cognitive or both symptoms.

During the attack a child experiences somatic, cognitive or both symptoms.

The most common symptoms of panic disorder in children and adolescents present during a panic attack are:

  • heart palpitations,
  • difficult breathing,
  • choking sensations,
  • dizziness,

  • trembling,
  • sweating or hot or cold flashes,
  • numbness or tingling in the limbs,
  • fear of dying or losing control,
  • fear of going crazy,

  • intense fearfulness (a sense that something terrible is happening),
  • feeling as if one is in a dream and feeling like one needs to “escape”.

Panic symptoms often come on quickly (within 10 minutes) and they can last for minutes to more than an hour before they fade away.

Panic attacks can happen at any time even while sleeping.

Comparing them with those which adults experience, attacks in children and adolescents are often more dramatic in presentation.

That means that they include

  • screaming,
  • weeping, and
  • hyperventilation.

As already exposed, panic attacks are sometimes unpredictable and feel as if they happen “out of the blue.”

Other times, certain things or environments can trigger them or even fear of having an attack can trigger a new one.  

A "Safety Person" May Help Children With Panic Disorder

For this reason, many children and adolescents who suffer from panic disorder try to avoid the places where they previously had an attack. 

Also, they try to avoid other locations or situations where they think an attack might occur...

...and help would not be available or escaping from some particular place would be difficult.

We are talking about

  • enclosed or crowded places,
  • cars,
  • tunnels,
  • bridges,
  • subways,
  • shops, etc.

In severe cases, children can also start to avoid specific activities or places.

It can happen that a child or teen needs somebody who he/she trusts, a “safety person”, to go with him/her when they leave home.

In extreme cases they can even refuse to leave home altogether.

Panic Disorder in Children May Develop Severe Depression and May be at Risk of Suicidal Behavior

Panic attacks have a significant influence in a child’s or

  • adolescent’s relationships,
  • schoolwork, and
  • normal development.

The result of suffering from attacks can lead to severe anxiety and it can also affect other parts of a child’s mood or functioning.

It is incredible but children and teenagers with panic disorder may begin to feel anxious most of the time, even when they are not having panic attacks.

They can develop severe depression and may be at risk of suicidal behavior. To try to decrease anxiety, some adolescents will start to use alcohol or drugs.

Panic disorder in children is not so easy to diagnose.

When a child suffers from panic attack the episode is, as already said, more dramatic in presentation. It is accompanied with, for example, screaming or weeping and that kind of display can be alarming to parents and others.

If the problem is not recognized and treated in a proper way, panic disorder and its complications can be devastating.

There are different types of effective treatments such as EFT therapy which may stop panic attacks or help the child and his family to learn ways to reduce stress or conflict situations that could cause or trigger an attack.

A child can also learn to control anxiety or panic attacks when they occur. With a proper treatment or combination of different treatments the panic attacks in a child can usually be stopped.


Vlasta Kuster, holds an MA degree in Basic Medical Sciences and uses her 3-month EFT therapy in her work to help people to do away with panic attacks and anxiety for good. She has more than 10-year experiences in EFT therapy and achieves at least 90% success in permanently eliminating anxiety and panic attacks. You may contact her through her website

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