Panic Attack

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Kjs, May 17, 2009.

  1. Kjs

    Kjs Guest

    difficult child has been talking to a girl from his English class. She sent him a message on Myspace the other day that said "where were you 4th block...I missed you" That was the day of his psychiatrist appointment.

    He has been talking to her on AIM. I asked the English teacher about her. The English teacher is the one who has had difficult child help her cook/cater/serve the Prom and a banquest this past week. She also helps him with homework after school, and she is who he goes to if he needs someone to talk to.

    Yesterday - difficult child was on the computer talking to this girl. I asked to use the computer for a second. He handed it over and said "mom - I almost have a girlfriend. In that second the phone rang. A friend of his asked him to go to Milwaukee to a concert. Free. His sister got sick and couldn't go and his mom would drive and pick up. difficult child was SO excited. First someone actually called him. take him to a concert...
    We talked to him, it was a last minute deal. Sister was going to go, but has her graduation today and decided to stay to rest up.

    difficult child checked in a couple times as I asked. Then about midnight he texted me and said they were on their way home and he is having a panic attack.
    Through my texting - which is very slow, I told him he is ok, to breathe slow. He tends to breathe real fast and then gets tingly and such.
    I kept writing how they are 30 minutes away, 20 minutes away.. he is fine. He asked for a xanax. I knew then it was bad because he won't take that. He has only ever taken one once. I asked him to call me. He said no because he didn't want anyone to know. So - husband is in the other room and I hear him CALL. I ran out to husband and said he doesn't want anyone to call.!!!!!
    He got home and said he did ok. Was proud of himself for talking himself down a bit. He did take the xanax and asked to lay in my bed. Fear he was going to die and wanted me to watch him. I told him that was fine, we could watch a show. But when he felt better he needed to move to his room. He fell asleep immediately. Has not woken up yet.

    He said his face felt all tight and numb..wanted to know if he was having a stroke. I told him he was fine. We didn't ask about the concert, he did say he had fun. The attack happened on the way home.

    So What would of set it off? He has gone to hundreds of concerts. I am worried now that he won't go to things now afraid of a panic attack.

    AND - we have had a season pass to six flags every year since easy child was little. difficult child use to love going. We would drop him off with friends and he would spend every day there. Last year he seemed a big more afraid. Didn't go until the very end of the season.

    Didn't plan on going this year, but for $69.99, I couldn't pass it up. One day is $54.00. That was last years price. Anyway, his math/physics class has a field trip their on Thursday. I have off of work. I do not have a season pass. I was wondering if I should take him. He hates taking the bus, everything is loud and echo's. Then I am also wondering if I should go with incase he has a panic attack. Or - if I should just be across the street at the mall. I can find many things to do at the mall for 5 or 6 hours. I want him to have fun, but if he has an attack, that may ruin the entire season, afraid to go again. Then there are his headaches. What if he gets a bad headache? He use to be such a daredevil about 5 years ago. Now he seems to be afraid of more and more of the rides.

    Should I talk to the teacher? I am afraid if I do that they may not let him go. I am tempted to pack up some excedrin or Advil and maybe a xanax. If he knows he has it that may just prevent anything from happening.
    However, on the other hand...if he gets caught with it, that can mean trouble. If I am across the street i can run over to the park and meet him at the gate if he needs it.

    One problem there is I have had so many classes from work, that I have not been available to work my second job. I don't want them to fire me.
    And I have a CPR/ first aid class coming up that I won't be available to work, and also a Forklift certification class. LOL - like I need that. They won't let me touch a pallet jack to move a pallet of paper unless I have that certificate. I don't even know where a forklift IS. But the pallet jack I could use to bring a pallet of paper into the printer room. Been there two years and haven't needed it yet.

    Should I talk to the teacher? Should I tell her if he has an attack just to send him to the first aid room. Six Flags has an entire house like thing just for first aid. Should i mention anything? Just let difficult child know me or easy child will be available if needed?

    easy child doesn't believe in mental illness. Says it is all made up. And no such thing as ADHD - Parents make all this up. HE has LIVED with difficult child. OMG. He says it is MY fault he is this way. that I MADE him like this. So, if something happens like a panic attack - easy child tells difficult child to "just get over it".

    Should I just turn down work again - and make sure I am available?
  2. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Hello KJS--

    I used to suffer from terrible anxiety and panic attacks....and I can tell you it was just SO common for the attack to hit after the stressful event was over. I was always able to "hold it together" for whatever emergency, meeting, interview, party, social event, or new experience that came along.

    Then when it was all over, I would get so sick with anxiety! And I used to wonder what was wrong with me, because if it was just anxiety--shouldn't it have happened before or during the event that was causing me the stress? Why would I get sick after the job interview? or when I was on my way home from somewhere? or at the end of a tough day when I finally had the chance to relax?

    It was terrible!

    I finally got over it when I learned some really effective techiniques that I could use the moment I felt a panic attack beginning to build.

    Being able to stop the attacks set me free!

    Hope your son can find some relief....

  3. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I'm not sure what to suggest. I know if I were a teacher I would want to know about the possibility of a panic attack so I could prepare for the situation in case it happened. I wouldn't let that stop a child from going but that's me.
  4. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Since it's so near the end of the year and there's a risk teacher might not let him go, I think I'd opt for not telling and go hang out at the mall yourself if that's an option for you. Give him instructions to call you and head for the first aid area if he finds himself struggling.

    Have you looked into biofeedback for him since this is situational and medications don't seem to be needed all the time?
  5. mamabear01

    mamabear01 New Member

    I agree about hanging out at the mall. I understand giving your child a Xanax, but I do know the school will probably do a zero tolerance on it if he gets caught. And thats not good. I have heard some horror storys about this.

    Does he and you have a cell phone where he can call you if he has a problem?

    I don't know if I would tell the teacher more than giving him an opp to call you about this.

    Yep thats what I would do. If you can shop and be near then I would do it.

    I have panic attacks and I know it's because I am having such a great fear that I just can't control it at the time. I end up throwing up and I hate it. I am okay in crowds, but I am wondering if it's the crowds that might trigger this for him?

    I know my son who has alot of anxiety CAN"T take a big bus due to sensory issue's.
  6. Stef

    Stef Dazed and Confused

    Our HS will suspend a kid if they catch him with so much as an aspirin. All medications have to go thru the school nurse.
  7. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Kjs, panic attacks shouldn't really be a big deal. But to the person having one, they can be terrifying. And easy child should be ashamed of himself, being so narrow-minded and judgemental. As for blaming you - I have one thing for you to say. "Oh, for Pete's sake!" and walk away.

    Panic attacks are NOT mental illness, not in my book. They have a distinct physical component which kicks in and makes it seem a lot worse.

    Gone are the days when we can label aconditionas purely mentla, or purely physical. Medical science now accepts that the body and the mind are intertwined, you can't separate out medical consitions which ONLY affect the mind, or ONLY the body.

    In your shoes, I would be giving difficult child a detailed lesson in human respiratory physiology. He probably needs to include cardiac physiology and maybe some endocrinology. He's smart enough. But in this - knowledge is power. I speak from experience. When I first started getting ectopic heartbeats, it could have been scary except by then I already had enough knowledge of cardiac function to know exactly what was happening to me and to realise that despite feeling like my heart was trying to break out of my chest, it was simply a delayed beat leading to extra filling time, leading to a bigger stretch of the h eart muscle and a corresponding harder contraction in response. It's all back to normal by the next heartbeat. And it's just one of those things; if it had continued I would have asked my GP to have my vagus nerve checked out.

    Respiratory physiology will explain things like why you shouldn't hyperventilate before diving in order to stay underwater longer - it can be fatal even for experienced swimmers. And knowing why can keep you safe. Respiratory physiology also explains why you get those weird symptoms during a panic attack, the pins & needles in the face (especially lips), fingers, toes etc. It also explains how to fix it fast. But you need to haver that academic knowledge, in order to be able to think clearly and not let your anxiety run away with you. Those physical feelings have a physical cause and it is lack of carbon dioxide. Our bodies NEED carbon dioxide in orde to fully function properly. It's also going to have a slight effect on the blood pH and this is why you feel the physical symptoms. But in the meantime, every cell in the body is constantly working hard and in doing so, is using up oxygen (and other raw mterials) and producing metabolites (which includes carbon dioxide). These metabolites all tend to dilate blood vessels in their local area. That's why exercising muscle (which has a higher level of metabolites) tends to have dilated capillaries, which helps more blood flow into those exercising parts and this fuels them as well ascleans them out.

    It's all very marvellous, really. Fascinating stuff.

    So my serious suggestion - find a physiology student or a medical student (we covered it in 2nd year) or the local doctor, and ask them for a loan of their textbook on respiratory physiology. You study it with difficult child and go over it together so you BOTH understand what is happening in the body when he over-breathes and exactly where these sensations come from. I would also ask for a referral to a therapist who can use CBT to help difficult child 'switch off' the panic attack and get back to a normal breathing pattern.

    YOu may not need the CBT - knowledge may be enough. Or the CBT may help finish the job and be the nail in the coffin for any future panic attacks.

    But panic attacks - definitely a physical component. Those symptoms he reports have a clear physical cause. But it's short-term and purely due to loss of carbon dioxide and resulting short-term acid imbalance in the bloodstream. If you're going into hospital for surgery, chances are the anaesthetist induces the same thing in you once you're unconscious, before the surgeon makes his first cut. Again, because "blowing off" your supply of carbon dioxide by putting you on pure oxygen for a few minutes, means there is a lot less bleeding from the surgery.

    Again, this may be not in practice these days, my training is very out of date. But that is what science and medication students were being taught back in my day (about 20 years ago now).

  8. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    The worse thing about a panic attack is the feeling that lingers - the fear it could happen again. And the more the person focuses on that fear, the faster his/her body builds up to one.

    There are not always "triggers" that can be figured out. My difficult child has had a panic attack out of the blue that do not make sense to us either. I think that stress, anxiety, excitement, any strong emotions (good or bad) can overwhelm the body of a anxiety ridden person and even when things are going well BOOM - here is a panic attack. Your difficult child just had a GREAT day and was feeling really good. It was a last minute event so he didn't have time to adjust to it as much as normally would. Not as much time to calm down from the excitement of going before actually going? It was like his body didn't know how to handle so much happiness (it may not be used to that much excitement) - where to put it - so it let loose and BOOM panic attack.

    That not knowing what set it off - knowing it will come out of nowhere - is harder to fight than the 10 minute attack itself (the worst of it usually only lasts 10 minutes but can take awhile to calm down). You can talk your difficult child through one (he also did a good job at working it out - he is old enough to use these tools when no one is around) to assure him he is o.k. but you can not assure him it will not happen again. I think that is why my difficult child does not want to go to school - he is afraid he will have an attack in front of classmates.

    As for the field trip - it really depends on your relationship with the teacher. I would be able to hand my difficult child's teacher the Xanax and headache medications with instructions to use it as a PRN and there would be no problems at all!

    I really know what you are going through. I do the same with my difficult child - Should I go? We want so much to protect our boys from this. Helping to prevent a panic attack or headache will save the trip for everyone! On the other hand, he does need to face these possibilities on his own. To know that he can excuse himself from the group and go calm down. I think if I did not trust the teachers/chaperones to know how to handle a panic attack or headache, I would make myself available. Go ahead and tell the teachers he will meet them there. I avoid busses like a plague whenever possible. They really are not a healthy environment.

    You may want to give him a Xanax as he walks out the door for the trip.

    Keep assuring him that he can handle a panic attack. He conquered it the other night. He can do this! Let him know that he is not alone. Lots of people have them and all anyone can do is to relax and work through them.
    Last edited: May 18, 2009
  9. tinamarie1

    tinamarie1 Member

    Very good advice from Marg and Andy. I suffer from anxiety and panic attacks. It is sooooo scary. I have actually had husband take me to the ER because I was certain I was having a heart attack. I have been in therapy though that has helped by giving me coping mechanisms (like meditating or breathing techniques) that help me gain control over the attack.
    You must be very proud that he was able to control it and make it home the other night.
    As far as the field trip goes, I want to say that I would discuss it with the teacher. I mean there is alot of excitement where he's going and if he has an attack, they will not know how to handle it...they will surely think he is having a heart attack or something.
    Could you give a copy of his prescription to the school and allow the teacher to carry it? I know alot of schools won't allow teachers to administer medications though.
    I hope it all works out and he is able to go.
    In a perfect world we could go on all field trips and be with- our kids in case they need us, but I know thats not really possible.