College Panic Attacks: How Parents Can Help

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college panic attacksSending your child off to college is a big event – for everyone. You have to get adjusted to not having your child at home and your child has to get adjusted to being away from home. What happens when your child calls you during a panic attack? How can you help them?

While your child may be excited to be heading off to college, it’s a very stressful time for each of you. College students are often fraught with anxiety, which for some students can lead to panic attacks. It’s important to remember that, although your child is away, you can still help him or her manage their anxiety and even support them in the midst of a panic attack. Here’s how.

Stay Calm

Your tone of voice is important to your anxious child so be sure to remain calm. If your child detects the slightest bit of anxiety in your tone, it could cause him/her to hide their true feelings from you in an effort to avoid making you more upset. You also don’t want to run the risk of increasing your child’s anxiety by sounding anxious. If you find that you are having trouble managing your own anxiety or stress level, make sure you are taking time for self care and seek out help and support.

Provide Encouragement

It’s important to encourage your child; not just in school but in life. If your child is suffering from high levels of anxiety and panic attacks, encourage him/her to seek treatment from a psychiatrist or counseling service on campus. There is no shame in asking for help!

Promote a Healthy Lifestyle

What we do and what we put in our bodies has an effect on our mental health. There are many foods and beverages that can increase anxiety, such as energy drinks. Because you’re not there to monitor things, it’s important your co-ed gets three balanced meals a day, exercises, gets enough sleep, and isn’t overdoing it on caffeine pulling all-nighters.

Hit the Road

If you’re close enough, hop in the car and make a visit. If you’re able to be there with your child during his/her first counseling appointment, that would be great, too. If you’re not close enough to visit, increase the frequency of your phone calls and video chat until your child feels better.

Going away to college can be frightening for you and your child, and, when anxiety is thrown in, it can feel like a nightmare. But, there are some things you can do to help ease your child’s panic attacks, even if you’re across the country. The most important tip is to always support your child and know that help is available.

Take care,
Catherine Lilly

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