People naturally experience feelings of terror when facing danger. However, some people experience panic and terror even when there is no real danger or cause. This is a sign of panic disorder – a type of anxiety disorder characterized by recurrent, sudden, and intense panic attacks that occur without warning.
Fortunately, people who have this condition do not have to live that way. There are several treatments for panic disorder to help you manage your condition and live a normal, enjoyable life. Let’s talk about some of those treatments and who you can talk to about tamping down your tendencies to have panic attacks.
Psychotherapy for Treating Panic Disorder
This option is the first treatment choice for panic disorder. Also known as talk therapy, this will help you understand your panic attacks and learn what may trigger them. Your therapist will explain to you how to cope and deal with them, and how to avoid the triggers as much as possible.
The results of this treatment are not usually immediate, and it may take a long time and lots of effort before you notice its calming effect on your feelings of panic. You may need to regularly see your therapist in order to help ensure that you remain in control of your panic attacks.
Self-care can also help make the symptoms of your panic disorder more manageable. This may include incorporating one or more of the following into your lifestyle:
- Join a support group. Having a group of people with whom you can identify can help you better understand your condition and yourself. Keep in mind that you will be helping them as much as they will be helping you, because everyone in the group provides important feedback to each other.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, recreational drugs, and smoking. These substances influence the mood, therefore triggering and worsening your panic attacks.
- Learn stress management and relaxation techniques. Deep breathing and calming exercises can help you relieve your anxiety and stress.
- Being physically active can naturally boost your mood and make you feel calm. Even low-impact exercise such as walking and swimming can help you physically feel much better.
- Get enough sleep every night. Having a good night’s sleep is a great mood-booster that keeps you relaxed during the day. Talk to your therapist about any sleep issues you may have.
Medication to Minimize Panic Attacks
Several types of medication can help reduce the symptoms of panic disorder as your therapist prescribes. Some effective medications include the following:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs are the first choice of medication for panic attacks. They are safe and have a low risk of severe side effects. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has approved SSRIs including fluoxetine, paroxetine, and sertraline for the treatment of panic disorder.
- Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). SNRIs are another type of antidepressant prescribed for people with panic disorder. Venlafaxine is an FDA-approved SNRI for treating panic attacks.
- Benzodiazepines are sedatives that affect the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). This medication is used as a short-term treatment, because it is habit-forming. Examples of this are alprazolam and clonazepam.
Never try to self-diagnose and use other people’s medications, as these drugs may have severe side effects.
Treatments for Panic Disorder in New York and Connecticut
Panic disorder can have a detrimental effect on your quality of life, so seeking professional help is the best way to allay its symptoms for good. Dr. Mark Stracks of Psy-Visions is a board-certified psychiatrist with years of experience in the field, and he can help you manage your panic disorder. We have clinics in New York City and Connecticut.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule a consultation with Dr. Stracks, you may call our New York City clinic at (718) 887-2918 or our Connecticut clinic at (203) 405-1745. You may also use this online form to schedule an appointment, and we also offer telepsychiatry services for your convenience! Let us help you live a life with no fear.