Panic Disorders and Phobias
Panic disorder is reoccurring periods of intense fear involving a panic attack. A panic attack is triggered unexpectedly and involves a racing heartbeat, dizziness, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, shaking and fear of losing control or dying. To be considered a panic attack, four or more of the symptoms mentioned will be present.
Also, in between panic attacks, many people excessively worry about when their next attack will occur.
Young women are 50% more likely to experience
panic disorder than young men. About 6
million Americans experience panic disorder.
What should you do if your think your child has panic disorder? Contact your pediatrician immediately for an accurate diagnosis. If treatment is needed, your pediatrician may recommend evaluation by a licensed behavioral health professional and/or a medication regimen.
Phobias are frequent excessive and unreasonable fears. The anticipation or presence of a specific situation or object brings about obvious negative emotion.
In some cases, the strong emotions can lead to a panic attack.
It is normal to be temporarily afraid or anxious in certain situations, but if severe symptoms persist consistently for six months or more, your child or adolescent may be living with a phobia.
There are several types of phobias:
- Agoraphobia is a fear of wide open spaces, such as being outdoors, crowded spaces or of being outside of the home alone.
- Social anxiety disorder is a condition where a child or adolescent fears social or performance situations with their peers (for example, recital performance, speaking in front of the class, school play).
- Specific phobia is an excessive, anticipated fear of a specific object or situation. The fear of the object or situation causes extreme anxiety and interferes with the child’s normal activities. Common specific phobias are insects, blood, heights, or flying on an airplane.
What causes phobias?
- Genetic factors
- Environmental factors
- Fearful first encounter with an object or situation
What should you do if your think your child has a phobia? Contact your pediatrician to discuss. If further assessment is needed, your pediatrician may recommend evaluation by a licensed behavioral health professional.
Phobias can be effectively treated, but may require multiple evaluations and testing settings for an accurate diagnosis.