What are Panic Attacks?
Panic attacks come in waves, and lead to overwhelming feelings of anxiety, fear, and panic. You do not feel in control of yourself, and often feel as if you cannot catch your breath, and that your heart is going to pound out of your chest. They are not uncommon, and can occur repeatedly or only one time. There does not have to be a direct cause for panic attacks, and they can strike at anytime, without warning. For some people, there are causes that can lead to panic attacks, such as public speaking, heights, or any other phobia. Panic attacks can be isolated breaks in mental health, or they can be a part of a larger disorder such as depression. If left untreated, these attacks can lead to more serious disorders. Thankfully, however, there are panic attack treatments available to help treat and cure panic attacks.
What Treatments are Available to Help with Panic Attacks?
You have multiple options when dealing with panic attacks, depending on your diagnosis, the severity of the panic attacks, and whether or not panic attacks are the main disorder, or if they are simply a symptom of a larger disorder. Medications will treat and reduce the symptoms of panic attacks, giving you your life back. The three most common types of medications are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), and benzodiazepines.
Selective Serotonins Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are commonly the first medication tried when dealing with panic attacks, and especially when dealing with panic attacks that are also linked to depression and anxiety disorders. SSRIs have fewer side effects than other antidepressants, as well as less severe side effects. They work by attacking the neurotransmitters which transport serotonin into the brain. By altering the amount of serotonin, brain cells are able to change the signals being sent and received in the mind, which improves mood. The most common SSRIs that act as panic attack treatments are Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft.
Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)
Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors are another form of panic attack treatments. They are more regularly used when panic attacks are one of the symptoms of depression, but have also been used to treat nerve pain and anxiety. SNRIs work by blocking the uptake or absorption of serotonin and norepinephrine. Serotonin and norepinephrine are neurotransmitters which change the balance of the chemicals in your brain. This in turn can work to boost your mood. SNRIs are called dual-action antidepressants because of their ability to block both serotonin and norepinephrine. Effexor XR is one example of an SNRI.
The final commonly used type of panic attack treatment are benzodiazepines. Unlike SSRIs and SNRIs, which control neurotransmitters, benzodiazepines work by sedating the central nervous system. This causes them to be habit forming, and must always be carefully monitored to avoid abuse. When combined with other medications, there is the risk of serious side effects. Because of these dangers, these are medications for more severe cases of panic attacks and depression. Common benzodiazepines include Klonopin and Xanax can be used as panic attack treatments.