Signs of Panic Disorder
You’re going about your day as usual. You’re up on time, breakfast is great, you’re on your way to school, no big deal. You find yourself walking behind the bleachers or making your way out of the cafeteria and it hits you. You start to feel uneasy, a little afraid. It’s getting a little hard to breathe and you can feel your heart begin to beat faster and harder. Your breath is getting shorter. Now you’re really afraid. You don’t know what’s happening. Your chest gets tight. You drop your book bag and feel like you’re about to pass out on the ground or in the hallway. You can’t breathe. It feels like you’re choking. Your fear and pulse increase even more. It doesn’t seem real. You’re thinking, “I can’t be dying, can I?” Try to relax, you’re not in any danger, you’re just having a panic attack.
Symptoms of A Panic Attack
Panic attacks start very suddenly and build very quickly. Panic attacks tend to peak after around ten minutes, and then begin to ease up. If you have at least four of the following symptoms, then you may want to take a serious look at coping with the problem.
- Palpitations, pounding heart, accelerated heart rate, or chest pain/discomfort
- Trembling, shaking, chills or heat sensations
- Shortness of breath or a sense of smothering or choking
- Nausea or abdominal distress
- Dizziness, unsteadiness, or light-headedness
- Numbness or tingling sensations
- Fear of losing yourself, losing control, losing your grip on reality, or losing your life
If you have had multiple panic attacks, then you may have panic disorder. You can take this test to better determine your place in the grand scheme of all things anxious.
Being an Adolescent
As an adolescent, you already know that you’re in between childhood and adulthood, but you’re old enough to know the truth and to start dealing with your situation honestly. It feels like you don’t fit in and you can’t wait to be your own boss. What you may not know is that you’re also at the age when panic attacks typically start and that these attacks can be the basis for other anxiety disorders.
If you’ve already had an attack, then you’re halfway there. You know what it’s like and you survived it. Now you just need the tools to help you cope. You can take charge from the beginning and meet the issue head-on. Don’t be afraid to seek help from a mental health professional or the support of a group that shares your concerns. No, mental health professional does not mean that you are crazy or need to be committed. It would be great to get the opinion of someone with experience with your situation.
Don’t Limit Your Spaces
Own your anxiety and don’t let it paint you in the proverbial corner. You may have had an attack in a particular place, but that place is not the root of your anxiety. Don’t avoid it or anywhere else you may have had an episode. You don’t have to do it alone. Take someone you trust to be there for you if you need support. Take your Winnie the Pooh blanket you used to sleep with if need be. Just don’t minimize your space. Once you start crossing off locations on your map, you may end up with your house as the only safe place. And that’s just not true! Your panic is real, but not dangerous, and you can handle it at your own pace. Start small and begin with the least anxiety-provoking space.
Marijuana and Anxiety Disorders
Let’s keep it as real and as simple as possible. Marijuana tops the list of most used substances and teenagers represent a significant percentage of users. The propaganda against marijuana use has been purposely misleading for decades, but in recent years, serious analysis of the true strengths and weaknesses of the plant is being conducted. By no means is this an endorsement for use of an illegal substance or its legal counterpart, but it is unreal and remiss to ignore it.
According to researchers, THC and CBD are somewhat beneficial and harmful, depending on so many personal factors and the quality of the marijuana. The suggestion to you is that if this is a route of interest for you, then consult medical professionals with questions. If you don’t trust the one you have, then get another one. Always make an informed decision when considering your health.
A Note to Parents
All people look to authority figures to determine the seriousness of any situation. This is especially true for children and adolescents. Assure your teen that all is well with your words, behavior, and body language. It is much easier to do if you believe it yourself, so, rest assured, nobody ever died from a panic attack or several of them. Focus on the now and getting your teen through it. Other authority figures, like teachers and counselors, should be on the same page. The more room your teen has to relax and be comfortable, the better for her or him.