When first introduced in the 1950s, antidepressants were used to help reduce symptoms of depression. However, studies have shown that antidepressants can effectively treat a variety of mood and anxiety disorders. Antidepressants are currently one of the most common treatment options for panic disorder.
How antidepressants treat panic disorder
Neurotransmitters are chemicals that occur naturally in the brain and are thought to be unbalanced for people with mood and anxiety disorders. Antidepressants work by affecting these neurotransmitters, thereby helping to reduce anxiety and reduce the frequency and intensity of panic attacks.Different classes of antidepressants affect various types of neurotransmitters.
The antidepressants most commonly used to treat panic disorder include the following categories.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a popular antidepressant that can be used to treat panic disorder.SSRI can balance serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is involved in the regulation of various body functions, including mood and sleep. By preventing your brain cells from absorbing serotonin, SSRIs can help improve mood and reduce feelings of panic and anxiety. SSRIs were first introduced in the United States in the 1980s and have been a popular treatment option for many mental health disorders.
Compared with other types of antidepressants, SSRIs are usually the first choice due to their safety, effectiveness, and the possibility of producing fewer side effects.
Some of the most common SSRIs include:
Tricyclic antidepressants (TCA)
Tricyclic antidepressants or TCA originated in the 1950s. Although it has become less popular since the introduction of SSRI, TCA is still used to successfully treat anxiety and mood disorders. Similar to SSRI, TCA can also balance serotonin levels.TCA also affects norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter related to alertness and the fight or flight stress response.
Some common TCAs include:
- Ilavir (amitriptyline)
- Asendin (Amoxapine)
- Nopmine (desipramine)
- Adalpine, Sinequan (dosepin)
- Tofranil (imipramine)
- Pamelo (nortriptyline)
- Vivactil (protriptyline)
- Surmontil (Trimipramine)
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) were first introduced in the 1950s and were one of the earliest types of antidepressants. Due to the many dietary restrictions and potentially dangerous drug interactions associated with MAOI, SSRIs and TCAs are generally more popular than them. However, MAOI is still considered to be effective in treating diseases related to mood and anxiety.
Like TCA, MAOIs affect the availability of serotonin and norepinephrine. MAOI can also stabilize dopamine, a neurotransmitter related to multiple functions, such as a person’s energy level, body movement, and sense of motivation.
Some common MAOIs include:
- Nardil (phenelzine)
- Parnate (Tranylcypromine)
- Maplan (Isocarbazide)
- Emsam (Selegiline)
Antidepressants and suicide risk
After research showed a link between the use of antidepressants and suicide risk, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning in 2004.The FDA requires a black box warning for all antidepressants because during the initial treatment period (the first one to two months of treatment), young people between 18 and 24 are at increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
Most people who take antidepressants do not experience this risk.However, young people who have just started taking antidepressants should be carefully monitored for depression, suicidal thoughts, and any abnormal behavior. If you have any questions and/or concerns about antidepressant prescriptions, be sure to consult your doctor.