Just like adults, children experience fear, anxiety and apprehension. These are but normal emotional experiences that a person feels regardless of age. However, if anxiety becomes irrational, recurring and severe, and anxiety attacks happen without any apparent reason, and the reaction is disproportionate to the problem at hand, it can be a cause of concern. This is why on the first signs of problem, have your child get proper diagnosis by a health professional to be able to rule out any possible causes and determine the right treatment to be applied.
Since anxiety attack is a type of anxiety disorder, it is important to know what happens to a child who is suffering from such disorder. To be able to identify it, here are the following symptoms:
Frequent feeling of fear and panic
Tantrums and excessive crying
Fear of making mistakes
Fear of getting embarrassed
Avoidance of certain activities such as school event and summer camps
Nightmares and night terrors
Resistance to any change
Low self-esteem, lack of confidence
Overly shy and difficulty making friends
Chronic physical symptoms such as stomach aches or headaches without any apparent reason
A child is under an anxiety attack if he shows the following symptoms:
Gush of overwhelming panic
Hot flashes or chills
Trouble breathing or choking sensation
Feeling of loosing control or going crazy
Feeling and fear of dying
Feeling unreal or detach
Nausea or stomach cramps
Shaking or trembling
Feeling like passing out
Chest pain or heart palpitation
Different children of different ages or even of the same age may manifest different symptoms. Moreover, some of the symptoms given may be considered as a normal behavior of a child. Thus it is a bit tricky to determine if he or she is really having an attack or not. What should be done is to recognize these symptoms and consider them as a reason of concern, then help your child deal with these symptoms through the following:
Seek help from health professional – Effectively stopping anxiety attacks begins with recognition and followed by a compete diagnosis from your medical doctor. A full medical examination should be administered in order to rule out any other physical causes unrelated to anxiety.
Doctors usually give prescription medications to help relieve anxiety. If applicable, SSRI antidepressants may be needed for a long term solution. For a more severe case, doctors may refer the child to a psychologist.
Self-help techniques – Parents may seek the help of books available for treating child anxiety. This is also very effective in teaching parents strategies for responsible parenting, which improve parent-child relationship and help build child self-confidence and self-esteem.
Play therapy – is the child version of exposure therapy. As an effective child anxiety treatment, play therapy uses the power of play to simulate each fearful situation in a controlled environment, which then helps the child face the problem and come up with a solution.
Herbal medicines – is proven and effective means of treating anxiety attacks and other types of anxiety disorder. Some of the commonly recommended remedies include passionflower, valerian, scuttelaria laterifolia (scullcap), California poppy, Melissa officinalis, hypericum perforatum (St. John’s Wort), hops and lavender.