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An early start for panic.

An early start for panic

Children as young as 5 years old suffer from panic disorder, according to psychiatrist Donna Moreau of the New York State Psychiatric Institute and her colleagues. Previously, only a few isolated reports have suggested that children develop the mental disorder, she notes.

In a study of 220 children and their mothers tracked over two years, Moreau and her colleagues identified seven children experiencing panic attacks, six of whom had panic disorder. The children ranged in age from 5 to 18 at the time their panic problems began.

Panic attacks typically involve unexpected periods of fear or terror, combined with physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness, palpitations, trembling and nausea. Recurring attacks, often accompanied by fears of leaving home or being around others when attacks occur, lead to a diagnosis of panic disorder.

Children with panic disorder, says Moreau, had at least one parent who suffered from severe depressions or panic disorder. Furthermore, each of the youngsters had several other psychiatric disorders. A 9-year-old boy, whose panic attacks started at age 5, also had phobias concerning elevators and bugs, as well as intense anxiety when separated from his mother because he thought she would die in a car accident.
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Title Annotation:panic disorder in young children
Author:Bower, Bruce
Publication:Science News
Date:May 21, 1988
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