Adolescent Psychiatrist Questions Panic Disorder

Is my child having panic attacks?

My son is 7 years old but for some reason is extremely worried and panicked much of the time. He is scared to go to sleep because he thinks something will happen to him or the family during the night. What can I do?

6 Answers

These symptoms do sound like panic or anxiety attacks, but can come from several underlying diagnoses. I would recommend starting with your pediatrician who needs to check his thyroid and labs then getting a referral to a child psychiatrist for an evaluation. His symptoms are painful enough it’s important to evaluate the cause and then get the right help for him.
True anxiety disorders are quite common in children, and this sounds much more than just "afraid of the dark". It sounds like he is in pain, and I would recommend taking him to a child psychiatrist for evaluation. There are lots of good treatments. Ask your pediatrician for a referral.
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Talk to your son about what he fears and let him talk about his concerns. Reassure your child that he is safe and secure, and that you are there to protect him. If his anxiety persists, talk to your pediatrician or primary care physician. If problems continue, you may consult a child psychiatrist.
All children and adults have healthy anxiety; some also have unhealthy anxiety. Unhealthy anxiety typically will not go away when parents provide reassurance, whereas healthy anxiety will. Parents may not be equipped to manage unhealthy anxiety on their own. Rather, consultation with a licensed mental health professional could help provide a detailed plan of treatment.

NB: This does not constitute medical advice, please see the disclaimer in my Expert Blog for details.
He is obviously concerned about safety, and like many children his age, he worries whether his family will be there for him. Needs a complete evaluation.
Your son seems to be experiencing some sort of anxiety. The recommendation is to have him be evaluated by a therapist/psychologist/counselor.