My Daughter’s First Panic Attack

I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. and Lundbeck to write about depression in college-aged students.  All opinions are my own.

As parents we pride ourselves in a lot of firsts. First steps, first haircut, first day of school, first dance….There just aren’t enough parenting articles written to prepare you for the first time your child has a panic attack. Earlier this year, due to a paid partnership with Med-IQ, we had begun having conversations at home that opened the door for our daughter to reach out to us quickly to help her through her first panic attack. I hope that by sharing our story it encourages you to talk about anxieties with your family members and remove the stigma in conversations surrounding mental health.


“I can’t breathe. I’m feeling very claustrophobic right now and my chest feels very tight. It feels like someone is sitting on my chest. It’s like I’m trying to get a deep breath but someone is holding my lungs. It’s like trying to breathe through a straw.”

This text from our high school daughter sent on a random Tuesday caused my husband and I to drop all the work we were doing on opposite ends of town. While we were proud that her first instinct was to reach out to us and talk her through solutions, we were highly concerned. She told us she was going to get some water and try to calm herself down. We encouraged her to go speak with the campus nurse as well.

As she was waiting for the nurse, we were able to reassure her through texts that health doesn’t just mean flu or throwing up. It also can mean taking inventory of mental and emotional health as well. It is totally valid to seek guidance from professionals at the first sign of an issue even if it doesn’t seem like a “big deal”. I was so grateful that we had already been encouraged to have these conversations and had been equipped with insights and tools on how to guide her through our partnership with Med-IQ.

How to Help
One of the things that kept us calm as we were talking through this with her was the information we had gained. We also know that in a handful of months she will be at college on her own and we need to continue to equip her for the transition to living away from us. There are several online tools that will help students learn how to track their own stressors and know when to get help. This site is focused on the ‘transition’ from HS to college: https://www.settogo.org/. This is another screening tool that is used a lot for colleges and universities: https://screening.mentalhealthscreening.org/goblue

Whether your child is already a college student and is coming home for Thanksgiving or in high school preparing for college, prepare to set a little time by the fire to check in with them holiday season. By now, our students have all thought about the transition from high school to college. They may be experiencing or worried about a wide array of stressors to manage whether it be academic, home-sickness, worries of financial aid, or social pressures like underage drinking or sexual pressure. 

Part of the talk we had with doctors learning how best to prepare our students was helping them decipher who they are and who they want to be, and part of that is learning how to take care of their own health. If your child can talk with you about their anxiety, assure them that help is available. Once you and your child are aligned with the right resources, both of can breathe a sigh of relief.

Help us by Taking a Survey
Med-IQ is conducting an anonymous survey and would appreciate your input. The survey, which includes additional education on this topic, will take less than 15 minutes to complete. Survey responses are shared only in aggregate. Your responses to these survey questions will provide Med-IQ with important information about your experiences with depression and mental health in your college-aged child, which will help us develop future educational initiatives.

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