Panic Disorder: What to Look For

Panic disorder is characterized by the occurrence of panic attacks and deep distress about their possible return. These events are extremely stressful and frightening both for the person having the attack and those watching it happen. Should your child experience these events, she may describe heart attack-like symptoms, a sudden and overwhelming fear of death or losing control, a feeling that the world is unreal, and an intense desire to flee, as well as physical symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, sweating, and shortness of breath, among others.  After an attack, which usually peaks within 10 minutes, children may be left with an intense fear of another attack. This can lead to avoidance of situations or activities she thinks might trigger another one, which in severe cases may limit her functioning.