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Childhood Panic Disorder

Treating Childhood Panic Disorder

Diagnosis of a panic disorder may be difficult because symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath also are associated with potentially serious conditions. However, proper diagnosis and treatment with medications and/or a skilled therapist may restore a better quality of life. Panic disorder is generally treated with psychotherapy, medication, or both. Psychotherapy, is considered an effective first choice treatment for panic disorder. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help the child learn how to change behaviors and thoughts that bring on panic attacks. Therapist will help the child gradually re-create the symptoms of a panic attack in a safe, repetitive manner. Teaching the child through their own experience, that panic symptoms are not dangerous. Results from this type of treatment can take time.


Doctors may prescribe medications to treat panic disorder. If one medication doesn’t work well, your doctor may recommend switching to another or combining certain medications to boost effectiveness. Different types of medication that are effective include:


  • Antidepressants, like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) are equally effective in reducing panic severity and the number of attacks.

  • Benzodiazepines, are sedatives that affect your central nervous system (These aren’t used for long because you can get dependent on them.)


  • Anti-anxiety medications (Like benzodiazepines, these work better in the short term.)

Both medications and cognitive-behavioral therapy can take time to be effective.


Reducing caffeine, regular exercise, limiting alcohol consumption, and deep breathing exercises can lessen the frequency of panic attacks. Although panic attacks aren’t life-threatening, they can be frightening and significantly affect one’s quality of life.



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