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Panic Attacks – Medicine, Medications, and Treatment Options

Posted on December 5, 2017 in Uncategorized

Should you be wondering if you have ever suffered a panic attack, chances are you have not. Panic attack sufferers know the excessive sweating, the trembling, the heart pounding and the uncontrollable fear that occurs when held at the mercy of their anxiety disorder. Panic attack sufferers also know that they are not suffering from a mental disorder, but rather a habitual problem that occurs at certain points in time that even they may not understand. What many panic attack sufferers do not know, however, is that there is an array of treatment options available to them so that they no longer need to live in fear.

After having your first panic attack, you should certainly seek professional help (such as your physician or a counselor) as, chances are, you will suffer from another attack at some point in your life. Your doctor is likely to write up a prescription with some sort of medication that is meant to help you. We will list what the most common medications are below:

Beta Blocker: Beta Blocker is very commonly used to treat anxiety disorders. It’s effective in that it controls the physical symptoms of a panic and anxiety attack even before it occurs. How is that possible, you ask? A Beta Blocker medication actually blocks the chemicals that make us feel nervous and anxious (one of them being epinephrine, which is strongly suspected to play a major role in inducing panic attacks). Beta Blockers are often preferred by practitioners as they have fewer side affects than the drugs mentioned below, though do be wary – side effects still do exist. Some of them are:

– Short term memory loss
– Fatigue
– Insomnia
– Nightmares
– Depression

Check the pamphlet that comes with the particular drug you may be prescribed for all of the potential side effects. The more common ones that you will find on the market are Propranolol (Inderal) and Atenolol (Tenormin).

FUN FACT: Beta Blockers have also been used by professional athletes to help alleviate the anxiety athletes are faced with when performing at important events (i.e. the Olympics).

Tricyclic Antidepressants (also known as TCAs): As the name states, this drug is most commonly used to treat depression, which is frequently a side effect to anxiety and panic attacks. Should you be prescribed this drug, you may find that you experience blurred vision, dry mouth, problems when attempting to alleviate yourself, and loss of sex drive (including erectile dysfunction). With recent research, TCAs are more and more often replaced with “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors” (SSRIs). Some TCAs that you will still find on the market are Imipramine (Tofranil), Desipramine (Norpramin, Pertofrane) and Venlavaxine (Effexor). Do note that some physicians consider TCAs to have a higher rate of being habit forming than other medications.

Benzodiazepines: Have fun trying to say that one out loud! Benzodiazepines are offered in single dose and several-dose forms, which causes one to take it several times a day for months or years, if necessary. These are perhaps the most effective at treating panic attack symptoms and, as such, are the most commonly prescribed. Beware that along with taking this medication often comes the following side effects:

– Decreased mental alertness
– Drowsiness
– Clumsiness
– Sexual side effects
– Irritability
– Increased susceptibility to the effects of alcohol

Without saying, no alcohol should be consumed when taking this drug in particular. Some names you will see if prescribed a Benzodiazepine are Chlordiazepoxide (Librium), Ativan, Diazepam (Valium) and Alprazolam (Xanax).

FACT: Xanax in particular is only FDA-approved in the United States for “short-term treatment”, meaning you may only use it for up to 8 weeks due to dependency problems.

Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs): Previously, MAOIs were prescribed when TCA treatment was not effective and as a last resort option. MAOIs are very powerful anti-depressant drugs, which perhaps have the most dire side effects or complications available out of the four medications mentioned. Some more common side effects are:

– Increased appetite
– Difficulties when sleeping
– Dry mouth
– Sexual side effects
– Low blood pressure

If you are prescribed a MAOI, you may find that you are prescribed Tranylcypromine (Parnate), Phenelzine (Nardil) or Hydrazine.

Should you run a quick internet search of all of the drugs you may be prescribed, you can quite possibly come by hundreds. The drugs mentioned above are only some of the more commonly prescribed drugs by American physicians. As with any medication, take them with caution. Follow the doses on the labels exactly as stated, and keep in mind that these medications are only a temporary solution to a problem. Discuss natural remedies with your doctor or counselor too to continue on the beneficial effects of living anxiety and panic attack free.