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PTSD after anaphylactic shock?

I have a child who just turned 5. She has multiple food allergies with peanut being very severe. She went into anaphylactic shock the first time she had a reaction. She was 3 and a half. Once she turned 4, she started having bad panic attacks whenever she loses sight of us (her parents) even if it's in the house. We have never left her alone and the shock is the only traumatic event I can think of. She remembers the event well. Her panic is incapacitating- she's wailing, screaming - a complete panic, even if I told her that I'm going into another room. After about a minute, she's all worked up into a frenzy. Has anyone else experienced this? I'm not sure how to balance staying clear of nuts and not terrifying her.

By Momof4tc on Tue, 02-25-14, 01:59

I want to thank peanutallergy.com for the post and sharing this question. It's so helpful to feel like we are not alone in this. I appreciate everyone who took the time to read and respond. It really means a lot.

By Marie45 on Mon, 11-11-13, 08:36

My son is 7, severe peanut allergy. He has never had an anaphylactic reaction. However, this past summer he snapped and realized he can actually die from this. He stopped eating, threw crazy tantrums and has had severe panic attacks. We have received help from a community of people. He regularly sees a nutritionalist and pediatric psycologist. The nutritionalist works with him on the food side, the psycologist with the other. Currently she has him working on relaxing his body and we, his parents reading 1,2,3 Magic. Although it has been really hard at times when he thinks each day us the day he is going to die, we have still seen small improvements. We have grandparents, friends and school personnel all helping. I have felt truly blessed with the outpouring that comes from people that want to help. My son finds some peace in wearing my cross every day. He carries a picture of his family in his pocket. We listen to Stronger by Madisa and pray for help. We also have a memory book of happy times to look at when he is ultra stressed. His allergist and pediatrician have talked to him as we'll. it really is taking a village. I hope you're able to get more help. Your not alone . Don't blame yourself. Take care of you.

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By Marie45 on Mon, 11-11-13, 08:36

My son is 7, severe peanut allergy. He has never had an anaphylactic reaction. However, this past summer he snapped and realized he can actually die from this. He stopped eating, threw crazy tantrums and has had severe panic attacks. We have received help from a community of people. He regularly sees a nutritionalist and pediatric psycologist. The nutritionalist works with him on the food side, the psycologist with the other. Currently she has him working on relaxing his body and we, his parents reading 1,2,3 Magic. Although it has been really hard at times when he thinks each day us the day he is going to die, we have still seen small improvements. We have grandparents, friends and school personnel all helping. I have felt truly blessed with the outpouring that comes from people that want to help. My son finds some peace in wearing my cross every day. He carries a picture of his family in his pocket. We listen to Stronger by Madisa and pray for help. We also have a memory book of happy times to look at when he is ultra stressed. His allergist and pediatrician have talked to him as we'll. it really is taking a village. I hope you're able to get more help. Your not alone . Don't blame yourself. Take care of you.

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By thekilij on Sun, 11-10-13, 16:58

Just some thoughts:

My 5-year-old daughter does not have what I would call panic attacks when she loses sight of me or her father at home, but it does put her in a slight state of panic. She will call out for me and if I don't answer immediately such that she can hear me, the panic in her voice increases, desperation is present, and she begins frantically searching and calling for me. These occurrences are fewer in number than they were in the past.

I think this behavior is completely normal for a child and has nothing to do with my daughter's allergies. She just genuinely hates being alone.

All I have done is, when she is aware that I am leaving the room and is anxious about it, I just keep talking to her as I walk out of the room. I tell her, "we can still talk. I'm in my room. Can you still hear me?" And we just go back and forth until I am done doing whatever I need to do in the next room. If, however, she realizes I'm not in a room with her and randomly panics about it, I just immediately respond by telling her what room I am in. This way she knows where I am and can focus her efforts on getting to that room, rather than having this overwhelming task of looking everywhere for me. It also puts her in a position to take action, rather than me taking action by running to her anytime I need to use the bathroom.

A 5-year-old child is dependent on her parents for many things, including keeping her safe from allergens. And some children realize this more than others. I think it's completely normal for a child to feel anxious in the absence of her guardians. It's probably a part of her survival mechanisms at play. The extent to which this anxiety is expressed is going to vary among children.

Seeing your child in a more extreme state of panic in an environment where you know it to be unnecessary may lead you to worry about whether there is something wrong with what you are doing or with your child. My opinion is that your child is just acting in an instinctual way.

All my best to you and your daughter.

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By TayasMom on Fri, 11-08-13, 03:09

Not only have I experienced these, I almost thought I wrote this. You described my Daughters anxiety, perfectly! After a year of trying to work this out on our own the Dr prescribed Buspar (anxiety med) which has been doubled recently.( not much improvement with that) She has also started seeing a therapist I would definitely recommend the therapist. (Probably need to go as a family in the beginning. My daughters anxiety went though the roof being in there without me when she first started. ). Good Luck :))

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By PeanutAllergy.com on Fri, 11-08-13, 01:16

Question of the Week: Answered!

Every week, PeanutAllergy.com is answering one of the questions posted in our community.

Our Answer:

It is understandable that your daughter suffers from panic attacks, as going through anaphylactic shock can be terrifying for anybody. If left untreated, these panic attacks can carry on for long periods of time and affect your daughter later on in her life.

Here are some suggestions for teaching your daughter about her food allergies:

  1. Make sure she understands that anaphylaxis is rare and will occur only after making contact with a certain allergen.
  2. Empower her by showing her how she can prevent allergic reactions. Show her what to do during play dates and at school.
  3. Role play with her and teach her how to react should she experience a reaction. Let her know that someone (you, family, teachers, caretakers, etc.) will be there to take care of her when it does happen. When you feel she is responsible, teach her how to self-inject epinephrine.
  4. Give her examples of people who have experienced anaphylactic shock and are now doing fine.

Ultimately, you should contact a mental health professional who is trained in dealing with trauma to help your daughter.

We asked our Facebook fans for their advice, and you can read their responses by clicking here.

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