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.

Take the survey here!
Once you’ve completed the survey, you will have the option of providing your email address to be entered into a drawing administered by SOMA Strategies to win 1 of 10 $100 VISA gift cards. If you choose to enter, your email address will not be sold, kept, or stored; email addresses are used only to randomly draw the winners and notify them of their prize.

Disclaimer: Links to external sites are provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only. They are not intended and should not be construed as legal or medical advice, nor are they endorsements of any organization. Med-IQ bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality, or content of any external site. Contact the external site for answers to questions regarding its content.

The One Thing You Haven’t Prepared Your College Student For

This is a sponsored post. 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. Thank you for supporting Thrill of the Chases. 

Getting ready for college has been a major topic of conversation in our house for a while now. Our teens still have a couple of years before they officially leave the nest, but because they are already attending an early college high school we talk about this almost daily. This means an even greater focus is already being put on college preparedness. This means homework and test grades stay up:; for college. They are aware that a well-rounded portfolio of volunteerism beyond academics is important: for college. Even our summer vacation schedule is dependent on when an additional summer class or two can be taken: for college. 

As parents, we are doing our best to prepare and guide them while still encouraging them to have as much autonomy over their lives as possible. We’ve had excited conversations about potential college tours. We’ve also had heavier conversations surrounding topics of college parties and campus safety. It wasn’t until Med-IQ approached us with this discussion that we considered how important it was to help them prepare their mental health for the college transition too. 

My partnership with Med-IQ allowed me to sit in on a discussion with doctors (John F. Greden, MD, Founder and Executive Director, University of Michigan Comprehensive Depression Center & Todd D. Sevig, PhD, Director, Counseling and Psychological Services, University of Michigan) to ask questions and learn why this emphasis on mental health during the transition to college is so important. 

Why is talking about mental health during the college transition so important? 

During the call I learned that suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students. So many risk factors are at play during this transition time that many could simply be overlooked until they weigh so heavily that you and your student is are left dealing with a crisis you are unprepared for. 

Risk factors include:

  • Loss of previous support system and social network  
  • Academic stress 
  • Increased pressure to succeed 
  • Feelings of isolation 
  • Mental illness, especially anxiety and depression 
  • Lack of adequate coping skills 
  • Conduct issues 
  • Previous suicide attempts 
  • Substance abuse 
  • Interpersonal difficulties 
  • History of abuse or trauma 
  • Impulsivity 
  • Fear of mental health stigma 
  • Insomnia

So, where we do begin? What can parents do?

The doctors advised that parents check in with their own level of stigma and their own history with mental health that may be keeping them from approaching the topic with their children. All students are affected to some degree and it is important to gain understanding and education about the realities of college life today. Use online tools and encourage your students to use them to gain insights and assess their own needs. These online tools can help students learn how to track their own stressors and know when to get help. As they transition to living away from their parents, the doctors discussed how the students are learning who they are and who they want to be, and part of that is learning how to take care of their own health.

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.

Take the survey here!

 Once you’ve completed the survey, you will have the option of providing your email address to be entered into a drawing administered by SOMA Strategies to win 1 of 10 $100 VISA gift cards. If you choose to enter, your email address will not be sold, kept, or stored; email addresses are used only to randomly draw the winners and notify them of their prize.

Without this conversation I would have been left without a starting point to begin a conversation. Looking back on my own experiences, I now recognize some factors in play that I probably should have sought help with when I was their age. At that time neither the adults in my life or I were informed enough to make that decision. I am hoping that because of this information our children will not struggle in the same ways I did. In a future blog post, I will share more about how we are planning to approach the conversation with our students, resources you can use, and what our teens thoughts are after the initial conversations. I hope you’ll participate in this part of the journey with us. I truly believe it will be life changing. 

Disclaimer: Links to external sites are provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only. They are not intended and should not be construed as legal or medical advice, nor are they endorsements of any organization. Med-IQ bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality, or content of any external site. Contact the external site for answers to questions regarding its content.