Conventional Treatment Options
You can beat Panic Disorder. There are many treatments that work. Medications, psychotherapy, and mind-body interventions either alone or in combination, are
effective. You have the choice of several different medications and different psychotherapies.
Most of the antidepressant medications also block unexpected panic attacks. Anxiety and agitation can be side effects of antidepressant medications especially in Panic Disorder patients who are very sensitive to these feelings. It is a good idea to begin the medication at a lower dosage than would be the case in depression.
Antianxiety drugs such as Xanax, Ativan, and Klonopin also reduce panic symptoms and have a much quicker action-usually within days. Unfortunately, these medications are potentially addictive at the relatively high doses required to reliably block panic attacks. This drastically limits their long-term usefulness. Once you start, it is very difficult ever to stop because their withdrawal symptoms perfectly mimic what it is like to have a panic attack.
See Also: Drug
Therapy for Panic Disorders
One strategy is to combine the best of both worlds - to begin treatment with very low doses of an antianxiety medication in combination with an antidepressant or psychotherapy. This provides some immediate relief until the antidepressant or psychotherapy has taken effect. The antianxiety medication can then be discontinued (usually in three to six weeks) without provoking withdrawal symptoms.
Cognitive/behavioral psychotherapy teaches you how to prevent the escalation of uncomfortable physical sensations into full-blown panic attacks. Sufferers of panic disorders are usually hypervigilant and prone to catastrophize the significance of uncomfortable bodily sensations. The therapy makes them aware that it is normal to experience a wide variety of bodily sensations. They may be asked to do activities such as running up and down several flights of stairs so that they can get used to having a fast heartbeat without freaking out.
During and after panic attacks, there is a high likelihood that you are hyperventilating. But you may not be aware of it. A few minutes of rapid, shallow chest breathing can blow off enough carbon dioxide to set off reflexes that make you dizzy. Being dizzy makes you anxious. This increases your hyperventilation. This further amplifies your unsettling body sensations, leading to even more anxiety. This, in turn, cranks up the volume of the physical sensations even further. Therapy can break this vicious cycle. Learning deep breathing and other breathing techniques can make you aware of when you are hyperventilating and teaches you to counteract this by breathing slowly and with your diaphragm.
Behavioral Therapy for Panic Disorders
Golden Rules For Coping With Panic
Comparison of Drug
Therapy And Psychotherapy
Medication works faster. It requires less time, effort, and courage on your part.
Medications may have troublesome side effects. Once started on a medication, you often need to stay on it indefinitely in order to keep from having future panic attacks.
Techniques learned in psychotherapy can be applied indefinitely so that remission is maintained long after the therapy has ended. Some people may feel more in control if they can avoid the need for medication.
Psychotherapy takes longer to work initially. It is very labor-intensive.
As mentioned before, one sensible approach is to start medication and psychotherapy simultaneously and then very gradually taper away the medication once the psychotherapy is taking hold and you are feeling better.
Common Sense Recommendations
Alternative and Integrative Therapies