10 answers

6 Year Old with Panic Attacks

My son is 6 and in Kindergarten. He started the year off excited and raring to go; then a couple months into the school year he had a panic attack when his class was preparing for a field trip. After that he continued to get anxious at school. We thought it was just an adjustment period and that he would settle into a routine. Since the holidays things have gotten worse. He got sick in the lunch room and then refused to eat at school because he was afraid he was going to get sick. I took several weeks, but we started to make progress; then a Dental Hygenist came to speak to his class. Before she ever made it to the room, he started with a panic attack and the school counselor was called to calm him down. After that he once again refused to eat, but this time it was because food would cause cavities. After a lot of talking and a trip to the store for more toothpaste and mouthwash, he is eating again, but brushes for at least 10 minutes after eating. School assemblies are another problem, his taecher has a hard time getting him to leave the classroom if it's for something other than their normal schedule. Trips to the doctor's office are horrible and usually involve kicking, screaming and vomiting. He gets upset when a family memeber or classmate is sick, because they might be going to the doctor. My husband and I have been to school and spoke with the guidance counselor and his teacher, I have been called several times to calm him down or take him home. We are in the process of finding a child psychologist in our area. We are searching for any way to help him deal with his anxiety. He breaks out in a cold sweat, cries, shakes and starts to hyperventilate during these panic attacks. Both my husband and I have delt with anxiety/depression our whole lives and we dont want our son to struggle too. He is only a little boy; growing up and being a teenager is hard enough without having panic attacks. We have tried everything we can think of, but nothing we have tried seems to work. We are hoping someone has a similar situation and could offer some insight and advice.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Beyond getting him help, I would be very careful about his diet and bedtime routine. My depression has been much better since I started cutting out processed food and eating more fruits, vegetables and homemade dinners. In addition, I would also look into NAET treatments. A good doctor can give emotional treatments as well as standard allergy treatments. (You can find certified practitioners on the NAET website-Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Technique.) I have been getting treatments on and off for almost 2 years and not only did I get pregnant after a progesterone treatment, my baby is much better adjusted to life than my 6-year old daughter ever has been.

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I know how scary panic attacks can be. I have them myself and am trying to control them without my meds. What I have found works the best is- Playing classical or light music, self hypnosis (deep relaxation), and deep breathing. Sometimes nothing helps. With the self hypnosis he would eventually be able to calm himself just by saying a command in his mind. It works for me most of the time. I would keep searching for a doc in your area that specializes in these things. Often times local churches will have a therapist that you can see. Continue to calm him the best you can. If you want more info on how to do the self hypnosis, drop me a line. It isn't anything wierd, just a way to relax very deeply and get in touch with your body and what it's doing. Good luck to you! Shannon G.
PS. What a mom! I am so glad that you aren't dismissing his concerns as just ill behavior. Keep up the good work. Someday, he'll thank you for it.

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Does he have the same reaction at the childcare facility you manage? If not, he may a separation anxiety from you when at school, because you may have protected him from those stressful situations without knowing it. I would see how much of this behavior occurs when he is with you or other family, friends and plan accordingly. Even talk to your pediatrician, it may be something he cannot control and it is better to come up with a positive way to handle things to relieve the stress on all of you. Hope some of things may help and good luck to your family.

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A.,
I am a child and adolescent psychiatrist. You need to take your son to see a child psychiatrist ASAP. Counseling may help, but this will take some time. In the meantime, it sounds as if he is fairly disabled by his symptoms. He may benefit from medication while you are engaging him in therapy and to assist him with his progress in therapy. But he needs to be seen by a psychiatrist as soon as possible. This will not be something that you will be able to deal with successfully without the assistance of a psychiatrist and psychologist (or other trained therapist). Good luck.

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I believe you should follow through with the psychology appt you are seeking, but you may benefit from an occupational therapy evaluation. I am a therapist who treats children, and some of these issues may respond to certain types of treatment which do not involve medications. He should be checked for presence of a brainstem reflex called the Moro. It can generate a response from the autonomic nervous system such as you have described. If he never had any issues whatsoever before school started, that may not be the case, but it is worth looking into. Please continue to seek the psychologist, but look for a pediatric occupational therapist who has good experience with mental health, sensory integration, and brainstem reflexes.

K.

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We just took our 3yr son with some of the same issues to a Pediatric Neuropsychologist in Indianapolis, Bryan A. Hudson, Ph.D. We really thought that we were dealing with autism and Dr. Hudson was highly recommended by our pediatric doctor. They mapped his brain through play activities and narrowed it down to one part of the brain with a severe delay and old injury(?). It wasn't autism and with some suggestions from the doctor, occupational therapy and making sure he gets foods good for the brain (for example:protein- especially in the morning and foods high in b vitamins (we also use a b vitamin supplement formulated to reach the brain crushed in yogurt in the morning)), he is already showing great progress.
Dr. Hudson is near Methodist Hospital in Indy and his phone # is ###-###-####

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I recommed the Autisim center at Riley Hospital. They deal with all types of situations, not just autisim. My son has been going there for anxiety courses, and I am impressed with how they help - my son is 9 and has battled mild Tourettes with anxiety and some OCD tendencies. It is hard to feel so helpless with not being able to fix things for them, I know, but we just need to give them all the help we can to help them learn how to manage their issues. Good luck and keep following your instincts.

2 moms found this helpful

Beyond getting him help, I would be very careful about his diet and bedtime routine. My depression has been much better since I started cutting out processed food and eating more fruits, vegetables and homemade dinners. In addition, I would also look into NAET treatments. A good doctor can give emotional treatments as well as standard allergy treatments. (You can find certified practitioners on the NAET website-Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Technique.) I have been getting treatments on and off for almost 2 years and not only did I get pregnant after a progesterone treatment, my baby is much better adjusted to life than my 6-year old daughter ever has been.

2 moms found this helpful

Hi Aubrey--
I am SO sorry to hear about what you and your family are going through. I have tremendous empathy for you, for several reasons: I have experienced panic disorder, as has my daughter (now age 12). I am also a child counselor (LISW) in private practice in Beachwood, and a very large part of my caseload involves this type of childhood anxiety. I am not sure if it is becoming more frequent, but is seems so...at any rate, I have had success treating a lot of these children with a variety of modalites. The suggestion for medication is a good one if your child is truly not able to function on a daily basis, e.g., if he is not eating, sleeping well or is unable to function at all in school. The good news about anxiety disorders is that there are numerous "tools" the individual can be taught to deal with the symptoms. I teach deep breathing, relaxation and guided imagery to children; we also work together through age-appropriate anxiety workbooks; we learn basic feelings "vocabulary" and teach comfort with the expression of feelings in general, so they are able to vocalize much of what is worrying them; they can learn techniques to work through anxiety through art and play-based therapies;then children (and adults) can learn how their thinking is affecting their moods and emotions, and how to change dysfunctional thought patterns. With my own daughter, the symptoms of anxiety also came on very suddenly after the start of last school year; it turned out that a classmate vomited in the classroom, and she became terrified that she would vomit in front of others, as well. This led to her avoiding food and almost continual stomach aches, trips to the school nurse, avoiding play dates and sleep-overs, etc. It seemed as though my sweet, sensitive, happy little girl had been taken over by a monster. We have been able to get these symptoms very much under control; she found the process of educating herself about anxiety disorders very liberating. She had to take Prozac for a period of time due to being unable to eat or sleep for a period of time, but was able to transition off of the medication after about 8 months. All is well now...when issues do come up for her, she can handle them now with all that she has learned. Good luck to you in your search for a provider....it is very, very important for you to find help for you and your family (the therapist should have you in most, if not all, of the sessions, in my opinion, so you know what to do at home with your son...knowledge is really power in the case of severe anxiety). On the plus side, anxiety disorders seem quite common in very bright, creative, sensitive individuals. This WILL get better....

E.

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