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Panic attacks: How can I help my son?

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Panic attacks: How can I help my son?

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Panic attacks: How can I help my son?

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       Ask a Child and Family Professional

                          Question: How do I help my son who is having panic attacks?



Adolescence can be a risky period for mental health problems. Teens have to deal with environmental factors, genetics and personality traits, like being very sensitive. On top of this, teenagers go through many changes and challenges in a short period of time. This all happens while teenage brains are still maturing. As a parent you need to accept that most of this is out of your control.


So what do you have control over you may ask?  You do have control over your response to your teen and creating an environment that may help your teen understand and manage their panic attacks. This might include:

  1. Talking with your teen about what they are experiencing. A strong and loving relationship with you can have a direct and positive impact on your teen’s mental health.
  2. Working with your teen’s mental health professional. Run the following by them before you act.  If you don’t have support a good place to start is with your GP.
  3. Acknowledging your teen’s fear. Don’t dismiss, ignore it or minimise what they are experiencing. Let your teen know you’re there to support and care for them.
  4. Help them manage their strong feelings. First, assist them to reassure themselves that the symptoms of a panic attack are uncomfortable but not life threatening.  Second, direct them to focus their attention on something outside the symptoms. For example, focused breathing or concentrate on the sights and sounds around them. Third, aim to stay where they are- allowing the symptoms to pass will enable them to gain confidence in their ability to cope.
  5. Gently encourage your teen to face situations but don’t force them.
  6. When they act in spite of the anxiety, reflect back to them what they accomplished.
  7. Refer to your teen as brave rather than shy or anxious. Acknowledge they are working toward overcoming their difficulties.
  8. Be a good role model for managing your own stress and dealing with your own anxiety.

 Remember seeking support is a strength!


Would you like to do some further reading? 
ReachOut has this article here about panic attacks that you and your teen may find helpful.


Or perhaps you feel like you would benefit from some One-to-One support: You can check out our One-to-One support using the link below!


JM, Child and Family Professional at The Benevolent Society


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Want to ask our Child and Family Professionals a question? Use this link


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We also partner with The Benevolent Society to offer free personalised one-on-one support for parents and carers of teens over the phone and online.

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