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9 year old has panic attacks

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Dr. Laura,

I am having issues with my 9 year old daughter. Over the past year or so, I think she has started having panic attacks when around groups. She complains of feeling dizzy, having a sick stomach, and her heart beats really fast and she has shortness of breath. I have had her to the doctor for this but physically she is okay. Just last night I had to bring her home from her school Christmas Concert because she was so filled with anxiety that she was crying and petrified. I have also had to go pick her up early from Girl Guides, birthday parties, etc. There are no issues at home - we are a happy family with two little brothers for her and a loving father. I have had discussions with her and will sit with her and help her to slow down her breathing and provide lots of love. She says that she is afraid that she will be sick, and in turn I think that anxiety is making her sick. And around and around it goes. Do you have any suggestions on how I can help her work through this?

Thank you!


Your diagnosis of panic attacks sounds correct to me. Treatment for this is to help kids notice the worries that trigger panic symptoms, so they can prevent and even interrupt attacks. You can try to help her with this, but she may need professional support from a clinician who is experienced in panic disorders.

It sounds to me like you are doing a terrific job of loving your daughter through her anxiety by helping her to breathe. Let's give you more tools. You might want to start by reading Tamar Chansky's book Freeing Your Child from Anxiety. This book will give you invaluable strategies to help your daughter learn to manage her own mind. I would also recommend that you try teaching her EFT tapping on her acupuncture meridians to calm herself. Here's a link on how to do this: Using EFT with kids.

It is possible that with your help, your daughter can overcome this. But if it doesn't get better fast, please don't hesitate to get professional support. You don't want these important years compromised by anxiety. She should not need medication and should not need treatment for more than a few months.

Blessings, and please let me know what happens.

Dr. Laura

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