Panic Disorder Treatment – Overcoming Panic Attacks

Choosing an effective panic disorder treatment can be difficult. Set out below is information compiled to assist in the process of understanding panic and in finding an appropriate strategy for overcoming panic attacks.

There are three main panic disorder treatment aims:

The control and eventual elimination of panic attacks
The elimination of avoidance behavior. (The progression of panic disorder is a fear driven tendency to avoid situations and activities that are perceived as being the cause of panic. This avoidance is known as Agoraphobia).
The reduction of vulnerability to relapse.

Non Drug Treatments.
Research has shown that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is by far the most successful single treatment in overcoming panic attacks. This approach to the condition has a success rate of approximately 75% inclusive of drop outs. Key elements of this success rate are:

A closeness to the real situation. The Opioid Detox therapy is readily transferable to real-life panic attacks and is based on exposure to the triggers of attacks.
The greater frequency and length of the exposure to the triggers is known to increase the number who complete the therapy and have a positive effect on the outcome.
Treatment includes an instructional element to promote an accurate understanding of anxiety and panic and the ability to apply suitable management strategies.

Breathing Retraining.
Hyperventilation produces symptoms similar to those experienced during a panic attack and is often caused by panic attacks. It is recognized therefore, that learning controlled breathing techniques and having the ability to utilize those techniques when required will alleviate panic symptoms and add to the effectiveness of long term symptom management. Most cognitive behavioral therapies include breathing techniques.

Pharmacological treatments can be useful in overcoming panic attacks and providing relief from panic symptoms.
There are five pharmacological possibilities:
beta blockers
monoamine oxidase inhibitors
selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors

As with all medications there are arguments for and against each and guidelines for there use. The tricyclics and high potency benzodiazepines have the more acceptable success rates of up to 50% and may pose less risk of dependency and negative memory effects.

Combination of cognitive behavioral therapies and medication.
There is no doubt of the welcome relief that medication can bring to a sufferer. There is however some concern that in subduing or even completely eliminating the symptoms of panic disorder, the medication will affect the cognitive behavioral therapy as there is no longer any ability to have exposure to the triggers or threatening situations.