Panic Disorder Treatments
(Also Known As: Panic Attacks Treatments, Panic Treatments, Anxiety Panic Disorder Treatments)
(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)
What Kinds of Panic Disorder Treatments are Available?
One good thing about panic disorder is that the condition is highly treatable. There are varieties of treatment approaches for panic disorder:
Medication Treatment Approach
This group of drugs can reduce the panic severity and help eliminate panic attacks. It also improves the quality of life of individuals with panic disorder.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and Tricyclic antidepressants are found to be effective in reducing the severity of the attacks.
Anti-anxiety drugs (benzodiazepines)
This type of drugs are prescribed to prevent the occurrence of panic attacks, however its use can be habit forming for some of its users, usually for persons with history of substance abuse. Some physicians prefer its prescription only for a short term treatment owing to the risk of tolerance to the drugs and the risk of development of withdrawal syndrome when the drug is abruptly withdrawn.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy is found to be the most effective treatment for panics disorder, panic and anxiety attacks, and agoraphobia. The objective of the treatment approach is directed towards the behavior and thinking patterns of the person which trigger the panic attack. The treatment approach is to help one look at their fears with a more realistic light, which reduced the anticipatory anxiety that the person feels thereby allowing them to learn how to relax and deal with every situation in a more positive light with less terrifying thoughts. There are various types of cognitive behavioral approaches used for panic disorder:
Interoceptive Desensitization/Symptoms Induction
This is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy, that is commonly called exposure therapy, that involves the intentional exposure of the person to the symptom which helps in decreasing the person’s fear of panic attacks.
This form of cognitive behavioral therapy approach has more significant effect in reducing panic attacks than using muscle relaxation alone or education therapy. The effect of desensitization is one that reduces the intensity and frequency of the anxiety attack.
The induction of symptoms may occur for 1 minute and include the following processes:
intentional hyperventilation (this creates lightheadedness, dizziness and blurred vision)
Breath holding (gives the sensation of being out of breath)
Spinning in a chair (created disorientation and dizziness)
Straw breathing (creates airway constriction and dyspnea)
Running in place (produces increased heart rate, perspiration and respiration)
Body tensing (creates the sense of being vigilant and tensed)
Medication treatment can suffice in helping to subdue the symptoms of panic disorder, however each of the medicines that is used for panic disorder treatment can impose side effects and the drug of choice should be based on the patient’s tolerance and adherence to the drugs. 8
Relaxation techniques can help a person with panic disorder calm themselves while learning to be in control to reduce the severity of the anxiety attack. Muscle relaxation, deep breathing exercises, and yoga are among the many relaxation technique to calm your senses.
The combination treatment approach of cognitive and behavioral therapy with medication provides a more efficient, rapid relief from the symptoms with a low relapse rate. 9
The patient and the therapist work together in uncovering the underlying emotional conflicts that may have caused the condition. The patient learns to overcome the problems by being able to recognize it with better understanding and recognizing the common stressors that contribute to the panic attack.
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