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daughter leaving class/panic attacks

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tumpymummy Mon 07-Jan-19 20:02:44

DD14 says she has been having anxiety attacks in some of her classes at school and has to leave during lesson time. She normally leaves class with a friend then when she feels 'calm' again goes back to class. These happened less towards the end of last term, but she had one again today, the first day back at school. She says it was because the teacher was going round picking on people to answer questions. At home she is what I would call a 'normal' teenager, and seems happy most of the time, but does spend a lot of her time in her room. She wont talk to me about her 'anxiety', talks to her friends instead. I know loads of teenagers now 'have anxiety' but is it normal for kids just to leave lessons for a bit? I remember feeling awkward at school sometimes and praying that the teacher wouldn't pick on me to answer a question, but I would never have dreamed of getting out of my seat and leaving the classroom. She wont talk to me about it so I dont know if I should be doing anything to help her? Or how I can help her?

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MaisyPops Mon 07-Jan-19 22:12:14

I think you seem really reasonable and sensible which is why I think you'll take this as intended (to try and help & share a range of ideas).

There is a bit of social contagion with students declaring themselves to have anxiety lately (and crass as it sounds the 'thing to claim' will tend to ebb and flow and change every few years).

In my experience the 'but they were asking questions so I had to leave' is a common line where there's that more social contagion element (vs when there's been a student with diagnosed anxiety the idea of getting up and walking out tends to fill them with more anxiety and we have things in place for them but obviously everyone is different).
The leaving class with a friend and then it all being fine would be unusual to me, if only because most schools will have a time out pass system for those who require it and unless it's a medical reason where they need to be accompanied then nipping out of lessons with a friend is very rarely part of the deal. I'm also quite surprised that school are allowing two friends to walk out of class.
Equally, usually when home have had concerns students with anxiety have tended to go along with parents, however reluctantly, to the GP or school have got involved through Senco etc to ensure support is put in place. A reluctance to do that also would make me a bit more skeptical.

There are absolutely students who have anxiety and it's very real and causes them issues. She may have anxiety and there's other issues behind the scenes. She may not and might be trying it on to have a chat with her mate in subjects they don't like. Obviously we can't tell and I wouldn't profess to be able to.

Personally, I think it might be worth you calling her form tutor or head of year to hear what they think is going on. They can share what they've seen and heard through school and you can share from home. Then you might be in a better position to decide what to do next.

tumpymummy Tue 08-Jan-19 00:01:24

Thanks @maisypops I totally agree about the contagion with anxiety. It certainly seems to be the 'in' thing for teenage girls. I'm sure there are girls for whom this is a real issue but in my daughter's case I really feel that it is just a case of her not yet knowing how to deal with uncomfortable emotions. I'm going to phone student support tomorrow to try and gain more insight into what is expected re staying in class etc.

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Whyisitallsostressful Tue 08-Jan-19 16:22:56

There are also lots of practical solutions you could use to try and help her...
If you search online you will find a lot of information on how to cope with a panic attack - realising that it’s happening and controlling breathing is really important to bring heart rate down and ride the wave of panic.
She could also try some sort of aromatherapy treatment - H&B will have rollerball little bottles of “calming”, “relaxation” oils etc that she could just apply to pulse points when she needs to. If you do suspect it might be more of a teenaged girl going with the herd issue, that might be a bit of crutch for her to feel like she has some control: Rescue Remedy is also really good for that.
Allowing her to leave class actually sounds like totally the wrong thing to be doing (unless of course she is hyperventilating in a major way). It just reinforces the negativity of the situation, whereas counselling I’ve experienced in the past for panic attacks suggests that you need to remain in the environment until the panic passes.
Best of luck with it!

Bekabeech Tue 08-Jan-19 17:26:19

I would suggest you take her to see your GP. She probably isn't severe enough for CAHMS, but at least getting this on her notes could be useful if things deteriorate.

There is a lot of this around because the teenage years have become ultra stressful, with a lot of emphasis being placed on getting the grades, and looking perfect, and being popular. And this pressure can be added to even while they are alone in their rooms.
And add to that the huge pressure schools and teachers are on to maintain or improve grades. If the grades drop that can trigger an OFSTED inspection. (And I have known teachers pushed out because their grades weren't as expected.)

You would be surprised how many of her friends are having therapy or have tutors.

Talking to the Head of Year could be useful as there may be in school counselling.

Rhubardandcustard Tue 08-Jan-19 17:47:32

My 14 year old DD broke down last year in tears telling me she had anxiety and had been having panic attacks.
The first thing I did was contact her head of year, they see a lot of this. She had an initial chat with Dd then had fortnightly counselling (school not cahms). It has helped enormously, I haven’t had to go down the gp route yet, but haven’t ruled it out for future.
My dd still gets anxious in social situations, she has always hated being picked on in class by teachers to answer questions etc.
We are taking it Day by day, her panic attacks have lessened she seems more settled since September.

IAmAllowedAnOpinion Tue 08-Jan-19 17:52:29

Is the teached 'excusing' them both from class or do they both just get up and walk out!?

typoqueen Wed 09-Jan-19 16:57:00

This is only my experience of anxiety attacks and i assume if affects people in different ways, i have had them since childhood and they knock me for six, i have honestly never had an attack that allows me to walk back into any situation a few minuets later, attacks for me usually last 30 mins to an hour and after im completely wiped out and sleep for several hours, there are no triggers for me they just happen, it could happen in a meeting or at home eating dinner, but the same situation does not always trigger an attack, at first they did as i attributed the situation to attacks, attacks can be terrifying, you can not breathe (or you believe you can not breath) your heat thumps in your chest and you truly belive this is it you are going to die any second, even after years of CBT therapy in your brain at the time all the professionals are wrong, the best way to describe it is when you attend anti natal classes all that breathing and relaxation techniques just go out the window once in labour and all you want to do is scream and rip someones head off lol, it is very hard to pretend to be having an anxiety attack. this is just a little insight to panic attacks

tumpymummy Sat 12-Jan-19 09:25:09

Thanks all, that's really useful. TBH I don't think she is having proper panic attacks. I think it's more a case of her feeling uncomfortable, she doesn't know how to handle the emotion, so she is fleeing. I don't imagine she is just running out of class, I think she is telling teacher she doesn't feel well/good so friend is going with her. Later this week she was really sensible. She had a difficult lesson and struggled with the homework set over Xmas so she had a word with the teacher after the lesson. So hopefully she is learning some strategies to help herself.

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