Occasional anxiety is a normal reaction to challenges in our lives. We all experience common signs and symptoms of anxiety, such as nervousness, restlessness, worrying, and a sense of danger, in certain situations and during major changes in our lives.
However, when anxiety becomes so intense, excessive, and persistent that it triggers a panic attack and affects your ability to cope with the stress, it is time to seek therapeutic help.
With the right course of treatment, the intensity and frequency of your panic attacks can be reduced, thus improving your daily life functioning.
Anxiety and Panic Attack Treatment Options
Depending on the severity of your anxiety or panic disorder, the two main types of treatment recommended by therapists are psychotherapy and medication.
Also called talk therapy, psychotherapy is an effective first choice option because it can help you get to the root of your anxiety disorder or panic attacks so you can learn how to cope with them.
One form of psychotherapy is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), in which your therapist will help teach you skills to identify, challenge, and change your anxious thoughts and behaviors. Once you are aware of things that make you anxious or where your anxious thoughts are coming from, the thoughts and fears seem to have less control over you, and your panic attacks may decrease in severity and frequency. Cognitive behavioral therapy can also help you overcome your fears of situations that you’ve been avoiding because of your panic attacks.
If severe anxiety and panic attacks persist despite psychotherapy, certain medications can be prescribed to help reduce symptoms. These include:
- SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) – SSRIs are most commonly prescribed for depression, but they can also be effective against panic disorders. They are generally safe and have a low risk of serious side effects, so they are often recommended as a first choice of medications to treat panic attacks. SSRIs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of panic disorder include paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva), fluoxetine (Prozac), and sertraline (Zoloft).
- SNRIs (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) – SNRIs are another type of medication for mental disorders that are used for depression and anxiety disorders. The FDA has approved duloxetine (Cymbalta) and venlafaxine (Effexor XR) for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder.
- Benzodiazepines –Benzodiazepines are a type of sedative that can be used for the treatment of anxiety disorders. Common types include as alprazolam (Xanax) and clonazepam (Klonopin). Unlike SSRIs and SNRIs, benzodiazepines are generally used only on a short-term basis since they can be habit-forming and can interact with other drugs, causing serious side effects.
Once you start taking medication, it may take several weeks until you notice an improvement in your symptoms. If one medication proves ineffective in curbing your panic disorder, your doctor may recommend switching to another or combining medications to boost effectiveness.
Anxiety and Panic Attack Treatment – Self Help and Good Habits
In addition to undergoing professional treatment, there are ways you can help reduce your anxiety and/or panic disorder symptoms, such as:
- Adhering to your treatment plan.
- Joining a support group that connects you with others facing similar problems.
- Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, smoking, and recreational drugs, all of which can trigger or worsen panic attacks.
- Practicing stress management and relaxation techniques, such as yoga, deep breathing, or progressive muscle relaxation.
- Regularly performing aerobic activity.
- Getting sufficient amounts of sleep.
Anxiety and Panic Attack Treatment in Atlanta and Alpharetta, Georgia
If you are experiencing anxiety and panic disorder symptoms, professional counseling can help. Atlanta Specialized Care provides therapeutic counseling for adults, children, and adolescents in the Atlanta area using highly researched and evidence-based methods of treatment.
We recommend therapy to patients as a first treatment option because it is safe and effective. If therapy alone is not sufficient, we have a psychiatric advanced nurse practitioner on our staff who can prescribe medication for anxiety and panic disorders as well as other mental health conditions.
For more information about our areas of expertise or to request an appointment, please call Atlanta Specialized Care at (770) 815-6853 or arrange a consultation online by using our interactive appointment request form.We look forward to caring for you or your loved one!