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Panic Disorder in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Apr 2, 2024.

What is panic disorder?

Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder that causes your child to have sudden panic attacks. A panic attack is a strong feeling of fear or discomfort. The attack starts suddenly, is worst 10 minutes after it starts, and stops within 20 minutes. The attack may have a trigger, or it may happen for no reason. Panic disorder means your child had at least 2 panic attacks that had no trigger. The attacks caused your child to worry over the next month that he or she would have more attacks. The attacks or worry about future attacks also change your child's behavior. For example, he or she stops going out with friends from fear of an attack.

What are the signs and symptoms of a panic attack?

Heart Attack vs Panic Attack

How is panic disorder diagnosed?

Your child's healthcare provider will ask when panic attacks happen, and how severe they are. The provider may also want to know if other family members have panic disorder or other mental health conditions. The provider may also ask how well your child is doing in school, or with daily activities. Tell your child's provider about any medicines he or she currently takes.

How is panic disorder treated?

Treatment options

The following list of medications are related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

What can I do to help my child manage panic disorder?

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

Your child has any of the following signs of a heart attack:

When should I call my child's doctor or therapist?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.