What kinds of treatment can help me?
It is important that your doctor understands not just your symptoms but also your thoughts and emotions during and after your panic attacks. Remember to tell your doctor if you are feeling depressed, have lost your appetite or don't enjoy your usual activities. Currently there are two types of treatments available to treat Panic Disorder: medication and psychological therapy.
Your doctor will design a treatment program for you based on the symptoms you describe. It may take some time to get the treatment just right for you. Remember, all patients respond differently to treatment, and no treatment for Panic Disorder works instantly. Even with medications, you can expect to wait a number of weeks before feeling the effects of your treatment.
Medications have been shown to work well in controlling the symptoms of Panic Disorder. After discussing the problem, your doctor may suggest that you begin treatment with one of the newer antidepressants, known as Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) which have been shown to be very effective in treating Panic Disorder. One of their biggest advantages is that they not only treat Panic Disorder, but they can also treat Depression and many of the anxiety disorders associated with Panic Disorder. For most people, symptoms of anxiety, fearfulness and avoidance begin to improve within a short period of time.
As with all medications, it is important to understand the side-effects associated with different medications. Be sure to tell your doctor if you are experiencing any side-effects, often he/she can help reduce or eliminate the different side-effects you may be experiencing.
Never stop taking your medication without talking to your doctor first. If your doctor decides to stop your therapy, he/she will explain the best way to do that. Stopping your medication too early can cause the symptoms to return.
Most people benefit from adding psychological therapy by properly trained professionals to their treatment. Some of the available therapies are:
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): Teaches coping techniques to help you deal with your symptoms by teaching you to anticipate the situations and bodily sensations that may trigger a panic attack. CBT gradually exposes a person to the physical sensations of panic and agoraphobia to help reduce the anxiety felt in different situations. CBT has been shown to be extremely helpful. New research has shown that a full course of CBT can effectively halt the disorder for at least 6 months after the patient stops taking medication. You may also learn different relaxation and deep breathing exercises that can be used to help you calm yourself during a panic attack.
Group therapy: Which can help by allowing you to share your experiences with other sufferers and to exchange ideas about treatment techniques and coping skills. CBT can also be administered in a group setting by properly trained professionals.