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Students with Anxiety Attacks

Posted

Specializes in School Nursing, Public Health Nurse. Has 3 years experience.

Hello all, I'm wondering if anyone has any tip or tricks to calm a student during an anxiety attack. I try to distract the student and attempt breathing exercises, but I haven't been very successful. Thanks in advance!

OldDude

Specializes in Pediatrics.

What age group?

coughdrop.2.go, BSN, RN

Specializes in School Nursing, Public Health Nurse. Has 3 years experience.

What age group?

High School

KelRN215, BSN, RN

Specializes in Pedi. Has 10 years experience.

What is the student's diagnosis? If he/she is having legit panic attacks, deep breathing isn't going to cut it. Does he/she have any PRNs available for severe attacks?

Jolie, BSN

Specializes in Maternal - Child Health. Has 35 years experience.

I agree with KelRN215. If you are asking about a particular student with diagnosed panic attacks, you probably need a prn medication on hand, and definitely need a conference to devise an action plan. The sooner the student is able to remove him/herself from the situation and go to a designated private place, the better. Perhaps a code word or phrase to the teacher, and out the door with a trusted friend as an escort to the nurse or office. The quicker it happens and the fewer bystanders that become aware of the situation, the better.

If you are asking because you are seeing students, in general, who become upset during the school day, and need strategies to calm down, I would suggest a quiet, private area of the office and coaching in relaxation techniques. Perhaps ask the school psychologist or counselor for materials or suggestions.

coughdrop.2.go, BSN, RN

Specializes in School Nursing, Public Health Nurse. Has 3 years experience.

Only a few students have been diagnosed with an actually anxiety or panic disorder and neither had a PRN med. The rest are students who freak out during finals, in class with an ex-bf/gf/best friend, etc. The latest episode was a student with no mental health diagnosis having an anxiety attack because the student did not like their new teacher. The teacher talked fast and the student freaked out on the 5th day of school. We always take them to a quiet place and I try talking to them to calm them down. Our counselors and school psychologists have had nothing to help me except they all believe I should refer the student to them once the student calms down. Because a panicky student to them = almost dying so it's "my problem".

Basically I'm looking for relaxation techniques, like Jolie suggested, that others use or anything they do that helps an adolescent student calm down.

NutmeggeRN, BSN

Specializes in kids. Has 25 years experience.

My experience is that plays out 3 ways: headaches, chest pain/asthma line sx or stomach aches. Stress relievers: deep breathing, relaxation, rubber ball, rest.....and sometimes PRN meds, meet with guidance, a walk outside...

OldDude

Specializes in Pediatrics.

High School!! Those are grown up size people. :no:

JenTheSchoolRN, BSN, RN

Specializes in School nursing.

School anxiety - I got that a lot. Luckily, I have a great counselor I can call if I can't get the situation under control, but I usually try first with my students (grades 7-12).

I have the student sit down, lock eyes, then ask if I need to stuck my door. If they nod yes, I do, then tell them "I know you are upset, but you know this is a safe zone, or you wouldn't have come here. It can be very hard for me to help you when you are this upset. I'm gonna give you a couple of minutes and stick at my desk with some paperwork. Then we can try and talk to see what the problem is. If you need my restroom, it is through that door. There are cups next to you and a water fountain around the corner. Okay?" 9/10, I get a nod. The 1/10, well...for each one of those kids, I have used anything for soft tones, sitting close to give them a moment, distraction, cold or hot ice pack or rubber ball to squeeze, push-ups against the wall, even handed one a sheet of paper asking them if they wanted to write how they were feeling instead of talking about it.

But like I said, I handle the older kids. The ones you can be a bit more rational with ;).

coughdrop.2.go, BSN, RN

Specializes in School Nursing, Public Health Nurse. Has 3 years experience.

School anxiety - I got that a lot. Luckily, I have a great counselor I can call if I can't get the situation under control, but I usually try first with my students (grades 7-12).

I have the student sit down, lock eyes, then ask if I need to stuck my door. If they nod yes, I do, then tell them "I know you are upset, but you know this is a safe zone, or you wouldn't have come here. It can be very hard for me to help you when you are this upset. I'm gonna give you a couple of minutes and stick at my desk with some paperwork. Then we can try and talk to see what the problem is. If you need my restroom, it is through that door. There are cups next to you and a water fountain around the corner. Okay?" 9/10, I get a nod. The 1/10, well...for each one of those kids, I have used anything for soft tones, sitting close to give them a moment, distraction, cold or hot ice pack or rubber ball to squeeze, push-ups against the wall, even handed one a sheet of paper asking them if they wanted to write how they were feeling instead of talking about it.

But like I said, I handle the older kids. The ones you can be a bit more rational with ;).

Thanks! That actually helped a lot :yes:

I worked as a camp nurse this summer. I had a few kids and counselors come in with panic attacks. I would also have them come in, speak calmly and reassuringly, instruct to 'slow down your breathing… relax… breath into your belly…' drink of water… lay down… cool air… and turn on a relaxation tape with relaxing music in the background… pretty soon they would start talking… then I'd distract them in some way depending on the situation. I ended up with a huge wall of colored pictures and notes… lol. Even the counselors enjoyed coloring. Counselors got homesickness too… and just plain exhausted and overwhelmed. Kindness and a listening ear went a long way. :)

Seriously, relaxing music does wonders… think spa music… very effective adjunct to whatever else you try… it's very calming. It helps on a subconscious level that they aren't even aware of. It will help you too. lol. Adds a lovely atmosphere.

I'm starting next week as a sub. :eek: