People with panic disorder often wonder if there are any techniques or drugs that can completely eliminate their symptoms. The truth is that panic disorder can never be completely cured.However, it can be effectively managed to the point where it no longer significantly harms your life.
One reason there is no permanent cure is that panic disorder varies from person to person. What works for one person may not work for another at all. But even if there is no panacea that can eliminate every case, through treatment, patience and persistence, you can find a way to help you cope with panic disorder.
Cognitive behavioral therapy
A mental health professional can help you find ways to change your thoughts and behaviors to get lasting relief. Different types of psychotherapy have been shown to be helpful for panic disorder. One of them is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which includes learning ways to relax, changing unhelpful thinking patterns, managing stress, and enhancing self-confidence.
Progressive or progressive exposure is a CBT technique in which the therapist slowly introduces patients to their fears and then teaches them to relax when experiencing anxiety. For example, if your panic is caused by driving a car on a highway, your therapist may ask you to first imagine that the car is driving on a highway. Then you will be instructed to remember this image because they will lead you to pay attention to your tension.
This attention to restlessness is followed by guiding attention to relaxation.In multiple treatments, the therapist will gradually increase your exposure to fear, from imagining yourself driving on a highway, to becoming a passenger in a car on the highway, to driving yourself. As you go through these stages, you will continue to learn how to stay calm and control panic.
Be sure to talk openly and honestly with your therapist or mental health professional. This will help them understand your symptoms and thus help you make progress.
Panic Disorder Discussion Guide
Get our printable guide to help you ask the right questions the next time you see a doctor.
There are many self-help resources to solve problems related to anxiety and panic disorder. These are designed to help you manage panic on your own. Common self-help strategies include:
- Relaxation techniques, such as stretching and deep breathing
- Positive affirmation and self-talk
- Peaceful and reassuring visualization
- Diary and other writing exercises
- Express feelings with art
- Transform negative belief systems into more constructive and optimistic views
- Lifestyle changes, such as getting enough sleep, limiting caffeine use, eating a nutritious diet, and exercising
Despite efforts to control them through treatment and self-help strategies, when symptoms persist, medications are usually recommended to treat panic disorder. When panic disorder becomes so severe that it affects daily functions, medication may also be recommended.
Medical professionals usually prescribe an antidepressant for panic disorder,Usually derived from antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs. These SSRIs include Prozac (fluoxetine), Zoloft (sertraline), Paxil (paroxetine) and Celexa (citalopram). These drugs can relieve anxiety and reduce symptoms of depression, which often coexist with panic disorder.
Common side effects of these drugs include sexual dysfunction, gastrointestinal upset, and sleep problems. If you are considering using antidepressants, check with your doctor for possible side effects and any other issues. Antidepressants can take up to several weeks to start working and should not be stopped suddenly.
Benzodiazepine sedatives are another class of drugs that can relieve anxiety and panic.Doctors may prescribe Xanax (alprazolam), Ativan (lorazepam), and Klonopin (clonazepam) for patients with panic disorder to immediately reduce anxiety symptoms.
These drugs may be abused. If taken for long enough, they may also lead to physical dependence.
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In general, no one method works for everyone. Try different methods to determine which method is right for you. Even if there is no cure for panic disorder, you can still get long-term improvement by finding a combination of treatments that works for you.