Son is having panic attacks

<p>Son is a sophomore, 2 hours away from home. </p>

<p>He had a very good freshman year, he made many new friends and top grades in a demanding major.</p>

<p>This fall, however, he seems to be falling apart. </p>

<p>He has multiple stressors. The courses are demanding. His girlfriend, that he would come home to visit last year, is now at college five hours away. His father, my ex, has issues and is off the rails lately. Son's summer job did not give him the hours he expected, so he is short on money.</p>

<p>Son is not dealing well. He seems to have symptoms of depression and anxiety. This runs in our family, I have suffered from it as well as my father. </p>

<p>I am now anxious because I want to help him and am not sure what I can do other than offer to talk. He has an appointment with the university counselling center for next week, but I feel so bad that he is suffering. </p>

<p>With the privacy rules, I'm not sure what, if anything I could do. I don't feel he is at risk of harming himself, but I don't know that he can handle this on his own. I want him to understand that it's not just stress, that this is a medical issue and he can be helped. I am worried that he will not advocate for himself well with the counselling center.</p>

<p>How do you help your adult child when they are away and need help?</p>

<p>anon, no words of wisdom here, just major, major hugs. My freshman son is going through this as well, and it’s SO HARD to comfort and guide him over the phone. (In the past, my son’s anxiety led to a total paralysis - he couldn’t do anything - so I worry son will, well, flunk out.) I will follow this thread to read the advice of others. Meantime, know you’re not alone.</p>

<p>All colleges have counseling centers, and are used to dealing with this. You should be able to contact them, but try to get your son to access those services first. If he will not do it independently, ask him if he will let you make an appointment for him. You can also try to do a 3 way call with the counseling center and your son and make an appointment that way. There is usually a way to make 3 way calls from your cell phone. </p>

<p>It is really hard to help people understand that this is a medical issue, and getting help is not only OK, but necessary. Especially at this age. </p>

<p>Good luck to you, and good thoughts for a positive outcome!</p>

<p>With regards to privacy, you ask your son sign a HIPAA for the university, which will allow them to include you on calls.</p>

<p>OP, I’m sorry your son is going through this. I’ve been there. This kind of problem is very treatable. Good care will offer some combination of meds and supportive therapy. He should talk to a psychiatrist about the full range of alternatives so that he can find a plan he feels good about. Antidepressants take a while to kick in, but if he is having panic attacks that interfere with his daily life or his ability to sleep, there are anxiolytic options that can offer him some relief in 15 minutes or so.</p>

<p>The privacy right belongs to your son, not to the school or his doctors. You can be as involved as he wants you to be. My parents were always aware of what was going on with my treatment.</p>

<p>Don’t forget to also set him up with a complete physical including seeing an endocrinologist to get a handle on his hormone levels.</p>

<p>Good luck…</p>

<p>Thank you. S has an appointment Monday with the counseling center. I an going to email him my explanation about this being a medical issue, he doesn’t really want to talk much about how he is feeling with me.</p>

<p>I’m sure his grades have dropped, but I don’t think he’s reached the total paralysis state yet. He has missed classes.</p>

<p>I figure one thing I can is to help lighten his stresses as much as I can. I told the ex to refrain from using S as his emotional crutch. The girlfriend thing is tough, but they call and text and email all the time. He said he would come home next weekend and help me with some chores to earn some money.</p>

<p>edit: I will see how he makes out Monday to see if I should ask to become more involved.</p>

<p>We went through this last year with our a son, a college freshman (2,000 miles away) who was struck with a different mental illness (the physical exam/tests showed nothing). We found a psychiatrist who saw him once a week. DS signed a consent form so that she could call me, which she did quite frequently. We registered him at the Office for Students with Disabilities. You should look into that. If the doctor fills out paperwork, the school will give your son accommodations, such as letting him turn a paper in late.</p>

<p>Our son started out at his school this fall, but the stress was just too much for him. He came home a few weeks ago. He is taking this semester off, and has just submitted his application for our local university for the spring. It has been really hard on our entire family, but we’re thrilled that DS is safe and doing pretty well. Selfishly, I love having him home! He’s very compliant, knows that he’s ill, and still as easy-going as ever.</p>

<p>Another resource you might want to look into is NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. They have chapters in most towns. I am currently taking a 12-week Family-to-Family Education class through them. It’s an intensive class for family members. We learn about symptoms, causes, brain chemistry, warning signs of relapse, and medications, as well as problem-solving tools, ways to help integrate our loved one back into the community, taking are of ourselves, boundaries, etc., etc. They gave us a 3-inch think binder at the beginning, and every week we get info to put in it. It’s one of the best classes in ANYTHING that I’ve ever taken.</p>

<p>You may not feel ready for all ths information right now, but I wish someone had told it all to ME a year ago. The main point is that what your son is going through is surprisingly common. There are a lot of resources.</p>

<p>MTA: I should have added that my parents lived in the same town as my son’s school. They were invaluable in making it possible for him to stay in school all last year. DS couldn’t have made it without them. 2,000 mile is too big a distance!</p>

<p>Counseling ctr appointment is good. Many see students on crisis basis and refer to a local psychiatrist and therapist.</p>

<p>A daily phone call can help. Its hard to keep a strong, supportive front, when inside you are shaking. Reach out to a trusted friend for your support.</p>

<p>Ask son if he could still withdraw from one class, just to lighten his load and stress level.</p>

<p>The hardest thing for me as a parent is to watch my son go thru the lows. For ex., I know he doesn’t adjust well to change, but in time he makes friends and becomes familiar with the situation. I remind him of this.</p>

<p>the best to you and DS</p>

<p>So glad that he has the appointment set up. That should make you feel better. The school is used to this, and will work with him to help him.</p>

<p>If these are “just” panic attacks, and not “panic disorder”, or if it is “panic disorder” without comorbidty, there are some useful self-help tools out there that folks can start using today. Often there is more than that going on.</p>

<p>Emphasis that this is the time for good self care, sufficient sleep, exercise, high protein diet rather than cheap carbs. Stop caffeine if possible. </p>

<p>My S went through this as a second semester senior. He thought he it was anaphylaxis (family history of allergies) and went to the ER twice before getting it diagnosed. He has had years now of dealing with the symptoms and various treatments, and has learned various coping skills. I see it now as a growth point for him, and am rather proud of his explorations into meditation, counseling, supplements and meds. </p>

<p>Watching them struggle with this is not easy.</p>

<p>Shrinkrap, could you point us to the self-help tools you referenced? Thanks.</p>

<p>I often reccomend this book</p>

<p>[Amazon.com:</a> Panic Attacks Workbook: A Guided Program for Beating the Panic Trick (9781569754153): David Carbonell: Books](<a href=“http://www.amazon.com/Panic-Attacks-Workbook-Program-Beating/dp/1569754152]Amazon.com:”>http://www.amazon.com/Panic-Attacks-Workbook-Program-Beating/dp/1569754152)</p>

<p>This site looks ok, he is the author of the above, but I haven’t used it before
<a href=“http://www.anxietycoach.com/panicdisorder.html[/url]”>Panic Disorder: Solving the Trick of Anxiety Attacks</a></p>

<p>Shrinkrap, I think it is more than panic attacks. I see guilt, and he seems emotionally fragile. He’s not sleeping well, and he says he cries a lot. Having had depression myself, it seems, well, depressingly familiar. </p>

<p>We have been talking more often, and I will give him a daily call.</p>

<p>I am not sure what they will do for accommodations for depression, but I know he’s feeling really bad about his classes, and I don’t want that to make him feel worse or hinder his recovery. He does have a lot of great friends there, so he is not alone. But they are not a parent or the girl he loves.</p>

<p>Thanks to all for the advice, recommendations and good wishes.</p>

<p>So, son went to counseling center today, and it turns out his appointment is a week from today :(</p>

<p>He is doing ok at the moment, I’ll continue to check in with him every day.</p>

<p>Doing “OK” is good! And getting an appointment at the counseling center is a major step in the right direction. Chin up, anon011. Son is making progress, albeit in baby steps, but progress nonetheless.</p>

<p>Do you know about light therapy? It’s fall and this is the time of year that I begin mine. It’s a full-spectrum light. Came from Northern Light Technologies.</p>

<p>eddie, yes I have heard of it, and it was recommended to me as a treatment option. I am waiting (impatiently) for S to be assessed.</p>

<p>Update with S-</p>

<p>He had an appointment for Monday, but the campus was closed, and he decided to visit his girlfriend. His appointment is now for next Thursday.</p>

<p>He stopped home last weekend, he seems fragile. He confessed to me that he has been calling his girlfriend dozens of times a day, and it sounds like she is getting fed up with him. :frowning: I told him to call me if he is feeling panicky and needs to talk, that she was probably not equipped to deal with it, and I have experienced what he is feeling.</p>

<p>He called last night crying, saying everything was bad. He is having the negative thoughts, another depression symptom. I talked him into going to the urgent care on campus, and a couple of friends walked him over. They had him talk to someone that was on call on the phone, and he sounded better after that. I was all set to drive out there.</p>

<p>I’ve been trying to hang on until he gets seen by the counselling center. It is really frustrating that you can get seen for any minor medical ailment pretty much right away, but you have to suffer with something like this for weeks before you can get seen.</p>

<p>Meanwhile, I hope he holds it together enough to get through this semester. I’ve talked to him about maybe taking a semester off, but I think he’d really be better off at school, even with a reduced workload. At home, all his friends are away, and at least school would keep him busy and engaged.</p>