Dumfries & Galloway Health & Social Care

Understanding Panic for Young People and Parents and Carers

What is Panic?

Panic is a normal reaction to a stressful situation. Have you ever noticed that feeling when you loose your keys or cant find something you really need? 

Thankfully for most people this feeling is mild and doesn’t last very long. 

For some people though they start to develop panic attacks, which are sudden feelings of terror for no reason. It can happen out of nowhere, is extremely unsettling, and can leave us with feelings of uncertainty. 

Symptoms experienced during a panic attack might include:

  • Dizziness
  • Loss of balance or faintness
  • Choking sensations
  • Racing heart
  • Shakiness 
  • Sweating, nausea or other tummy pains
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Hot flashes or chills
  • Fear of dying or thinking you are going crazy
  • Agoraphobia or fear of going out

What can I expect?

  • Sometimes it starts when a person is under a lot of stress.
  • Most people get better with treatment. This is usually a widely used evidence based talking therapies for Anxiety and Panic.
  • Therapy can show a young person how to recognize and change their unhelpful thinking patterns before they lead to a panic attack. Sometimes we also work with parents/ carers to help them support a child with panic attacks
  • Medicines can also help when talking therapies alone aren’t quite enough.

How might this this affect my child?

  • Panic attacks can happen any time, anywhere, and without warning
  • Your child may live in fear of another attack and may avoid places where they have had an attack.
  • For some people, fear takes over their lives and they cannot leave their homes.

What can I do to help my child?

  • Look out for changes in your childs lifestyle and try to have an open talk with them about what is happening
  • Share some information about panic with your child and encourage them to talk to you about things
  • Stay Calm ! While it is very distressing to see someone you care about so distressed, its important that you try to remain calm and reassure your child that they are going to be ok and the symptoms will pass
  • Speak with your GP, School Nurse or CAMHS. If your child is over 12, you will need their consent. 
  • Get some support for yourself too. Helping someone with panic attacks can be hard on you so its important to look after yourself too

When to refer to CAMHS?

We would welcome a discussion in the first instance to ascertain if referrals are appropriate.

  • CAMHS have no restriction on who refers.
  • All referrals or enquiries must have the knowledge and consent of the young person (age 12 year and over) 

You can complete our online Self Referral form 


  • ROOTD App for use when Panic event happening. There is a free trial and then a monthly subscription.
  • School Nurses implement Low Intensity Anxiety Management and this is something we would advocate as foundational intervention.

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