Panic attacks are symptoms of anxiety disorder. The victim may feel a heart attack or that his death is imminent. Panic attacks are sudden but are short in duration: mostly they last for ten minutes.

Victims of panic attack often suffer from phobias. These are irrational fears about something or a particular situation. Panic attack can easily happen when something triggers a phobia, or if a person has been avoiding confronting their fears for awhile.

Several panic attack medications have been developed to help with this condition. But generally panic attacks are treated with relaxation and reassurance techniques.

Psychotherapy is very important component to help victims of panic attacks, and is often used with panic attack medications to reduce the frequency of panic attacks. Cognitive behavioral therapy is widely used to address anxiety. This technique identifies and reduces self-defeating thoughts that cause anxiety, where the patient is exposed to conditions that previously caused attacks or anxiety.

Panic attack medication used to treat anxiety and panic disorders include:

  • (SSRI) selective reuptake inhibitor which include fluvoxamine (luvox), sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (paxil) etc and (SSNRI) selective serotonin and noreinephrine reuptake inhibitor which include duloxetine (cymbalta) and venlafaxine (effexor). This can prove to be effective in reducing the frequency of panic attacks. SSRIs if taken from three to six weeks once daily can reduce the frequency of panic attacks to 75-80%.
  • Propranolol is an example of a beta-blocker which can also be sometimes used to treat the patient.
  • Benzodiazepines like clonazepam (klonopin) or alprazolam (xanax), if taken daily, can be effective in reducing panic attacks. However the patient may be required to take it three to four times daily, and they have substantial side effects such as memory loss.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants like imipramine can also be used, but their side effects can be severe.

The patient receiving any medication treatment is closely monitored because of the possibility of the potential side effects that these medicines carries. Side effects can range from minor to severe, and sometimes they are even life threatening.

Despite of all the medicines used, physiotherapy still remains the most popular treatment for patients with panic attacks. This is especially important for pregnant woman because the medicines can have adverse effects on the fetus.

The combination of therapy and medication can result in substantial improvements and the frequency of attacks may be reduced by 90%.

Remember to always consult with a doctor before taking any medication!

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