Panic Disorder Diagnosis Panic Disorder and Anxiety in Teens By Katharina Star, PhD Katharina Star, PhD Facebook LinkedIn Katharina Star, PhD, is an expert on anxiety and panic disorder. Dr. Star is a professional counselor, and she is trained in creative art therapies and mindfulness. Learn about our editorial process Updated on December 04, 2020 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Daniel B. Block, MD Medically reviewed by Daniel B. Block, MD LinkedIn Twitter Daniel B. Block, MD, is an award-winning, board-certified psychiatrist who operates a private practice in Pennsylvania. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Commercial Eye/Getty Images Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder that typically begins in late adolescence or early adulthood. Although panic disorder often begins between the ages of 21 and 35, it's still possible to develop this condition in childhood or early adolescence. Panic Disorder and Teens The symptoms of panic disorder in teenagers are very similar to the experiences of adults. The main symptom of panic disorder is the experience of recurrent panic attacks. These attacks often occur unexpectedly and are marked by extreme fear, nervousness, and apprehension. Panic attacks are usually felt through a mix of physical, mental, and emotional symptoms. These attacks typically occur out-of-the-blue and are accompanied by four or more of the following symptoms: Accelerated heart rate Chest pain Chills or hot flushes Derealization or depersonalization Excessive sweating Fear of dying Fear of losing control or going crazy Feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint Feeling of choking Feelings of numbness or tingling sensations Nausea or abdominal pain Shortness of breath Trembling or shaking Panic attacks can vary in terms of symptoms, intensity, and duration. Most last for only a brief period of time, reaching a peak within 10 minutes. But a panic attack can continue to affect a teenager long after it has ended, causing heightened nervousness and anxiety hours after the attack has subsided. How to Recognize and Cope With Panic Attack Symptoms Consequences and Complications Experiencing a panic attack can be a frightening experience for a teenager. Similar to adults with panic disorder, teens who experience panic attacks are susceptible to developing avoidance behaviors. When this occurs, the teen begins to stay away from situations, places, and events that they believe may trigger a panic attack. A teen may, for example, start to avoid crowds—such as at school assemblies or the cafeteria. They may also become fearful in cars or other forms of transportation, and feel afraid to leave places deemed safe, such as the home. Repeatedly avoiding situations that may trigger panic attacks is a condition known as agoraphobia. Although more likely to occur in adulthood, agoraphobia can develop during adolescence. About one-third of those with panic disorder will also experience agoraphobia. This condition can potentially become debilitating, causing a teen to be homebound with agoraphobia. How to Reduce Your Panic-Related Avoidance Behaviors Treatment Options If left untreated, panic disorder can negatively affect a teenager’s life and potentially lead to problems with school, relationships, and self-esteem. Only a doctor or qualified professional can diagnose a teen with panic disorder. A doctor can also rule out possible medical causes for the panic attacks and determine if any co-occurring conditions exist, such as depression. Because girls are affected by anxiety at about twice the rate of boys, experts recommend that all girls and women should be screened for anxiety during routine health exams. Fortunately, safe and effective treatment options are available to help teens with panic disorder. Some of the most common treatment options for panic disorder include psychotherapy, medications, and self-help strategies. Treatment outcomes are often best when utilizing a combination of these options and following through with treatment recommendations. Through psychotherapy, a teen can meet with a professional who treats panic disorder to work through deep emotions and develop coping strategies. Different types of psychotherapy may be available—the most common being cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is centered on helping the teen develop healthier ways of thinking and behaving. Family psychotherapy may be recommended to assist in building supportive relationships between the teen and the rest of the family. Group therapy may also be available, in which the teen will be able to work through issues alongside peers who are also struggling with similar problems. Find Help With the Best Online Anxiety Support Groups A Word From Verywell Panic disorder can be experienced on and off throughout a person's lifespan. For instance, a teenager may have frequent and unexpected panic attacks for several months, followed by many years without any symptoms. Regardless of whether panic disorder is experienced for a short period of time or throughout life, it doesn't have to be unmanageable. The sooner a teenager gets the help needed, the quicker they will be on the road to recovery. If you or a loved one are struggling with panic disorder, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area. For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database. How Parents Can Help Teens With Panic Disorder 10 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Lijster JM, Dierckx B, Utens EM, et al. The age of onset of anxiety disorders. 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Impact of early adolescent anxiety disorders on self-esteem development from adolescence to young adulthood. J Adolesc Health. 2013;53(2):287–292. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.02.025 Gregory KD, Chelmow D, Nelson HD, et al. Screening for anxiety in adolescent and adult women: A recommendation from the Women's Preventive Services Initiative. Ann Intern Med. 2020. doi:10.7326/M20-0580 Pincus DB, May JE, Whitton SW, Mattis SG, Barlow DH. Cognitive-behavioral treatment of panic disorder in adolescence. J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol. 2010;39(5):638–649. doi:10.1080/15374416.2010.501288 Hardway CL, Pincus DB, Gallo KP, Comer JS. Parental involvement in intensive treatment for adolescent panic disorder and its impact on depression. J Child Fam Stud. 2015;24(11):3306–3317. doi:10.1007/s10826-015-0133-7 By Katharina Star, PhD Katharina Star, PhD, is an expert on anxiety and panic disorder. Dr. Star is a professional counselor, and she is trained in creative art therapies and mindfulness. 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