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Posted in Personal Growth
May 23, 2018

Common Treatments for Panic Attacks

One of the ironies of panic attacks is the feeling that you are alone, or that you will embarrass yourself if you try to seek help or even go into public. But it’s vital to get some sort of treatment so that the fear does not completely debilitate you. The good news is that panic attacks are treatable, and tend to respond well to treatment. Here are some of the more common treatments for this terrifying problem.

Medication
While most therapists and doctors do not look at medication as a long-term solution, it is often employed in order to help the patient get a handle on the situation and seek help. It may be that a patient needs medication in order to seek out and benefit from non-medicated treatments. Some of the medications used to treat panic attacks are:

-Xanax
-Klonopin
-Ativan

These medications are helpful if you are in the middle of a panic attack, often bringing relief from the symptoms quickly.

-Prozac
-Zoloft
-Paxil

These are anti-depressants, and are meant to treat the overall frequency of panic attacks. These medications can also reduce the severity of the attacks. They are not used to alleviate symptoms right away.

Various Therapies
Panic attacks do respond to various forms of non-medicated therapies. Here are some of the more effective, common ones.

Cognitive/Behavioral Therapy
Behavioral therapy can have different facets depending on the nature of the panic attacks. Basically, this kind of therapy helps the patient “unlearn” certain destructive behaviour patterns while learning constructive ones. Behavioral therapists help the patient directly address his or her fears. Otherwise, the patient tends to spend all of his or her time avoiding possible panic attack triggers.

Desensitization
This is an aspect of behavioral therapy that involves the systematic exposure to whatever the patient fears until the patient can face that fear. For example, if you have a paralyzing fear of flying in an airplane, the therapist may begin with having you simply walk up to a parked airplane. You may even be asked to touch the airplane. That will be all for the first session, or even the first few sessions.

Then, as you build confidence, the therapist may ask you to take a step or two up the steps to the door of the airplane. Then you can work up to being inside the airplane without it moving. Slowly, in incremental steps, you will be able to “unlearn” the fear response and re-learn a calm response to flying in airplanes.

Meditation and Relaxation Techniques
Yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates, and other stretching types of exercises can help the body relax. The calm, deliberate, disciplined movements are the opposite of the chaotic muscle contractions of a panic attack, and help your body lean how to have calm, peaceful, physical responses. The exercise itself in these techniques also helps panic attack sufferers.

Meditation can be practiced independently of the above techniques or in conjunction with them. Once again, the measured, calm, focused thought processes emphasized in meditation can help you learn how to cope with everyday stressors.

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