Recent studies have shown that as many as 4.7% of the population has struggled with panic disorder at some point. Along with causing social isolation, a panic disorder can also increase feelings of isolation and depression. Although medication does exist to help with panic attacks, it is worth examining how effective this medication is and if it has any potential drawbacks. Here are the most common types of medication available to help with the many symptoms of panic disorders
Types of Medications that Help with Panic Disorder
Medication remains one of the most effective ways to manage the symptoms of a panic disorder, with others being Stress relief at URP Behavioral Health. They can be fast-acting and allow the mind and body to relax while reducing the frequency of panic attacks you are struggling with. Four major types of medication help with anxiety and panic attacks: Benzodiazepines, Tricyclic Antidepressants, Serotonin-norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors, and Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. Here is a closer look at how they can help:
Benzodiazepines are among the most widely prescribed medications to help people struggling with panic disorders. Also known as tranquilizers, these meds can take as little as 30 minutes to kick in and induce a more calming effect. Drugs that contain Benzodiazepines include Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin. Their quick activation time makes them good medication during a panic attack. It specifically slows down the nervous system, letting the mind and body relax. Research indicates that another advantage to using Benzodiazepines is that they offer relief over a much broader spectrum while having side effects that can be much easier to manage.
Tricyclic Antidepressants are one of the few medications for panic disorders that have been thoroughly tested. With over 10 double-blind, placebo-controlled studies proving its efficacy, Many therapists feel more confident when recommending this treatment. It works by reducing the absorption of norepinephrine and serotonin, ensuring higher levels of these neurotransmitters are available. The best part is that it is not habit-forming and offers an antidepressant effect, ensuring that the person taking this medication does not cause serious physical dependence.
Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors
Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs) can be very effective in treating atypical depression as well as an individual’s social phobia. However, certain clinical trials have also shown that this can be effective at helping to treat certain anxiety-inducing states, which can also include panic disorders. It can help patients feel a lot more relaxed and works well as a form of longer therapy. However, MAOIs can have negative interactions with other drugs and ingredients. More specifically, individuals would have to maintain a strict tyramine-free diet or risk a hypertensive crisis. Considering the very serious requirements for following through on this type of medication, doctors will only prescribe it if no other type of treatment is working.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI)
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are very useful in treating depression. Along with treating depression, studies have also found that they can be very effective in treating chronic anxiety conditions as well. They do not have as many restrictions when compared to MAOIs, and they do not have the downside of physical dependency on Benzodiazepines. In fact, many professionals will recommend this specific treatment to individuals first, and if they do not respond to it, then they can try other types of medication. Finally, its side effects can also be very easy to manage.
The Potential Side Effects of Panic Disorder Medication
Medication used to treat panic disorders, while certainly very effective, also comes with a range of side effects that need to be effectively managed. It is important that you discuss the possible side effects that could come as a result of taking certain types of panic disorder medication. Some side effects that are common among all four of the types of medication mentioned above include:
One of the most common side effects of taking panic disorder medication is that it can cause blurry vision. This often occurs immediately after taking the medication, and the reason why is that these drugs affect ciliary muscle function. As a result, it can become very difficult to focus on nearby objects. This is somewhat intentional, as blurry vision reduces the information that the brain has toprocess, reducing stress.
Dizziness is also fairly common if you happen to take any of the drugs mentioned above. It happens due to a sharp drop or rise in blood pressure and will often happen as soon as you take your medication. However, as your body slowly adjusts to the medication, you will feel dizziness fade away. The only exception to this rule is Benzodiazepines, as dizziness is a staple of the relaxed state.
A dry mouth will often be the result of your body stopping involuntary muscle movements by blocking acetylcholine. This neurotransmitter focuses on various muscle movements and bodily functions. So, along with stopping the production of saliva in the body, urination and digestion can also be affected.
Physical Dependence and Withdrawal
Possibly one of the most important side effects worth discussing in panic disorder medication is people’s physical dependence. It is unfortunately common for people to develop an addiction to it, even if they have been using it for a short period. Symptoms of withdrawal can include restlessness, seizures, and even anxiety. This can often lead to people self-medicating, developing a dependency, and then being unable to quit, as it leads to a greater frequency of panic attacks.
Consider In-patient Residential Treatment
Another good option that you could consider for the treatment of panic disorders is in-patient residential treatment plans. Even if a professional prescribes certain medications, being in a healthier environment can reduce the likelihood of developing a dependency. Furthermore, with regular physical exercise and plenty of sleep, you can effectively reduce the frequency of panic attacks.
Panic disorders can be unfortunately common, but they are not untreatable. Through therapy and proper medication, it is possible for you to reduce the rate at which you experience panic attacks. However, it is also important that you understand the effects of these medicines and if they are right for you.