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Sunday, September 07, 2008 barnpotato, Community Member, asks

Q: My daughter (14) has panic attacks and can't go to school, do I make her go?

SHe homeschooled for 1.5 years and decided  that she wanted friends so wantedto go to HS. I choose a small one.  SHe went 2 days then got physically ill with dizzy, headaches etc.  After CAT scans and MRIs and blood tests she was pronounced normal and could go to school.  Tonight she had a horrific panic attack, she has never had one before though has had anxiety before.  Do I make her go to school?  I can't get her a psyc appt for 2 weeks.

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Answers (7)
9/ 9/08 1:04pm

Hello barnpotato,

 

It must be a scary time for your daughter and a confusing one for you!  First off, make sure you go to a therapist that works a lot with anxiety and uses cognitive behavioral therapy to treat it.  In the meantime, read a lot about anxiety and make sure you tell your daughter that while it is very scary, nothing dangerous is actually happening to her.

 

Remind her that anxiety symptoms are the result of her body telling her, "there's danger, you need to respond to it!"  The trouble is that the danger is not something she needs to physically fight or run away from (fight or flight response) but is more emotional and cognitive danger.  Maybe you can talk to her about what it's like to transition from homeschool to HS.

 

Brainstorm with her about what might make it feel safer to go to the school until you can get some help, such as shorter days, arrive earlier to adjust, possibly talk to her teacher (this is a good idea for some people but not for others).

 

I hope that helps a bit.  Please write back and keep us posted.

 

Regards,

Jennifer Fee, Psy.D.

www.thestressmasters.com

 

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Christy2012, Community Member
2/14/12 4:56am

My daugheter is 13 and for the past 2 months, she has been having the panic attacks on and off. Lately they are everyday. It is every morning before school, and then during school at random times. I have kept her home about 3 days a week and i am starting to get worried about school attendace. But I can not force her to school while in the middle of an attack. She gets light headed, shortness of breath, and her stomach gets to where she wants to vomit. I have tried everything to calm her but nothing seems to work. 4 of her best friends all moved last month (we are military) and this seemed to make things 100% worse for her. She see's a pshchologist once a week for depression, but i made an appointment with a Psychiatrist to see if maybe she needs a different kind of therapy or medicine. I just want my daughter to stop suffering. I never experienced a panic attack that young. I had severe shyness growing up which really affected my schooling, and am still dealing with that where I will not get up in front of people, and get nervous in certain situations. I have had 1 panic attack and that was during child birth. I just don't know what to do. Should I force my daughter to go to school even with the way she is feeling?

Also, I would like to add that she avoids large crowds at all costs. She said it is too loud and makes her nervous. She has always been this way. We never thougth anythign of it, just assumed it to be a personality trait of hers, but now I am wondering. 

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Kim Potts, Community Member
9/ 7/08 7:08pm

I suffer from extreme anxiety and can not deal well in public places so I only make myself go out a couple of times a week and thats only to the shop and back.

Im 37 and am over whelmed with anxiety which started as depression in child hood, my mother constantly had me at counselors which I hated.

Please just spend time talking things out with her, maybe give her a mobile phone and tell her to call you when ever these feelings occur.

You need to be there 24 hours a day to help, she needs to now she is not alone in this scarey world and that you are there for her no matter what.

I now if I had support 24\7 to talk my panic and anxiety attaks through Id make it through the day without crying.

Pull out all stops NOW, at 14 the action needs to be taken now, teach her to have quality of life.

I feel for you both, but shes so young and I now with love and support she can get better.

You are a great mum, just to have picked up her difficuties shows me you are able and deffinatly willing to be there and help her.

Its great shes got someone for the longhal.

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barnpotato, Community Member
9/ 9/08 2:58pm

UPDATE:  I took her to school and told her she needed to go to just 2 classes.  SHe went into a full blown panic attack, I called her therapist and lucky for us, she was available to talk.  My daughter told her that she would rather die or kill herself than go to school so the therapist recommended she see someone immediately and may need to be hospitalized.  SHe was not but now has to homeschool because the school said she can't loose any more school.  What I am wondering is how do you know they are telling the truth?  She knows that if she makes that threat she gets what she wants, it has happened before.  She says  she does not know what she is saying or doing when she is panicked.  She is seeking help but in my uneducated mind she is getting what she wants and not facing this fear.  I know it takes time though, so what do we aim for, she is fine anywhere else unless its strange.

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janett, Community Member
5/26/09 11:17pm

I have a 14 year old that has the same thing and its been hell i had to pull her out of 8 grade and we did a homebound she hated it she cryed all the time but she couldnt make in school now we are going to enter into  hs and i know  now what its gunnal take to get her to school and make it, HER FRIENDS, KEEP HER IN CLASSES WITH HER FRIENDS KEEP  her IN COMFORT ZONEmaybe you ought to try and do that and put a 504 in plan if you can to give her what its gunna take, its hard to work with the school because they think they know whats best but they know nothing,so NO you dont make her go to school you find what its gunna take to make it work and go fight with that, dont force because it makes it worst..................e-mail me back at      

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Roshea1956, Community Member
2/21/10 10:38am

I am an RN & I worked in the ER in the past, I started seeing people come in with panic attacks, I thought, these guys r acting, what wimps. Then I looked up the info. on panic attacks, and it actually is a chemical process within the body that puts a person in a flight or fight mode. Fear is the base of it. Something triggers the response. What triggers you in fight or flight mode? Life ain't getting easier, pressures r increasing even if I do not see it. How to handle fast breathing, is not to get panicky yourself. A person is the only one who can control their breathing, so first thing, change ur voice tone, lower, calmer, talk them thru it, deep, slow breaths not fast quick ones. Why? start getting tingling, numb feeling in arms, hands, face-this can be stopped by slower breathing. Reassurance from a parent goes a long way with a kid. It also creates trust. Is something going on at school that ur kid is telling their friends but not you? Someone harassing them, failing, needing help to understand homework (I had this problem long time ago I'm 53, and still remember how hard it was b'cause I was so shy to ask 4 help, I could not go to my gparents who were bringing me up, if only someone came to me maybe things would have been different. Fear is overcome w/talking, even role playing, stress release (hit the crap out of a punch bag), exercise esp. physical for kids, running, giving them credit for moving forward, doing well, we live in a society that one person is not at the same level in certain areas, so we feel inferior, not worthy in anyones eyes, feeding this info to ourselves daily is a killing force to hold us down, not move us onward and achieve, feel good, worthy, hopeful. Parents are BIG factors in this BIG BIG BIG!

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9/ 9/08 7:02pm

Hi Barnpotato,

 

I'm so glad to hear that your daughter already has a therapist, I was under the impression that you had to wait two more weeks for your initial appointment.  

 

Please consult with your daughter's therapist again so that the two of you are on the same page.  The trouble is, when someone threatens to kill themselves, you can't know if they are telling the truth or not, because you are not inside of their skins!  Typically, if someone threatens suicide, we need to take it seriously and take the appropriate steps to ensure their safety.  This may involve calling 911 or taking them to the nearest emergency room.  Your daughter's therapist can help you decide if you need to take this step immediately or if you can arrange for an appointment with him/her first.  However, if you ever have the slightest inclination that your daughter is serious, do not hesitate to call 911!

 

You cannot lose this way, if someone is serious about attempting suicide, then the hospital is the right place to be.  If they are using the threat to get what they want, then being sent to the hospital is a strong message that all threats are going to be treated like they should be, emergency situations.

 

Regards,

Jennifer L. Fee, Psy.D., Psychologist

 

 

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dawn, Community Member
9/10/08 3:32am

Hi, my name is dawn. I know all about CAT scans and MRIs! How many doctors have you taken her to? I was 18yrs. old and had a seizure, my first one. Right out of the blue. I had all kinds of tests done, I went to different doctors 2nd, 3rd, to see what the difference was in what each one had to say. I also went to different hospitals and offices. I have anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and gran mal seizures. I take 5 meds. and I am now 35yrs. old. I go day by day.

Peace, dawn

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CafePiazza, Community Member
1/ 2/09 4:48pm

After reading the other posts, I would like to add that my daughter suffered from panic attacks due to untreated depression.  When she started having behavior changes and mood swings, we had her evaluated and it did take a little while to identify that depression was indeed her issue and the best way to treat her.  She is on Lexapro and doing very well now.  We have not experienced panic attacks at all since her treatment began.

 

I do realize that everyone and situation is completely different but did want to suggest that a panic attack may be aggravated by overall depression.  My daughter started at a new high school this year as a junior - we believe now that although she does like the school and is doing well that the change was a huge process for her, creating her depression.

 

I also believed that my daughter might be using her anxiety to simply avoid school BUT now see quite clearly that it was just a cry for help.  She didn't know any other way to share with adults that her feelings were more than she felt capable of handling and that she needed some aggressive intervention on our part (aggressive meaning seeing a psychologist, psychiatrist regularly and trialing several medications.)

 

I trust this helps !  Laughing

 

Melanie

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laura, Community Member
7/19/10 2:02am

I suffered for years in school, sick with stress, anxiety,  started walking 30 min every night, avoided all caffine, and chocolate, low carb diet...I no longer have any attacks.  I however will revert back to caffine and all, and it will take me a month to get well again.

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By barnpotato, Community Member— Last Modified: 06/03/12, First Published: 09/07/08