Sunday, August 12, 2012

Using Proper Medication For Panic Attacks

Even though panic attacks do not pose any real physical threat, they can cause a lot of discomfort and stress to the person suffering from them. Panic attacks are common amongst people suffering from panic disorders and can be treated using proper medication and therapy. Therapies usually focus on changing the behavior patterns or thinking patterns. When both medication and therapies are combined, it has been noticed that relapses are a lot rarer.
There are numerous types of medications available for treating a panic attack or for suppressing the symptoms of an attack. Medications help not only in reducing the severity of an attack, but also in calming the person down and reducing the chances of a subsequent attack.
A common class of medication is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). Zoloft, Paxil, and Prozac are some of the most commonly used SSRIs. SSRIs are essentially used for treating depression and they affect the chemicals known as neurotransmitters, which are used by the brain nerves to send messages. Nerves actually release neuro transmitters so that they can be received by other nerves. In case these neurotransmitters are not taken up by any other nerve, then the nerve which was responsible for the release reuptakes them. SSRIs basically prevent this reuptake, so more serotonin and neurotransmitters are available for uptake by other nerves.
Tricyclic anti-depressants (TCA) like Norpramin, Tofranil and Anafranil were used to treat panic attacks before SSRIs were available. The success rate for both SSRIs and TCAs has been pretty much the same. However, studies have shown that SSRIs are safer and patients have a better tolerance level for them. Benzodiazepine is another class of medicine which is used for relieving nervous tension. Ativan, Valium, and Xanax are some of the commonly used benzodiazepines. These medicines are prescribed for immediate use and need to be taken on a daily basis to suppress attacks.
Irrespective of the medicine being used, there is always a risk of side effects, so it is important to consult your doctor before you take any. Also, pregnant women should avoid these medicines because they can harm the fetus. In most cases, medication takes about 6 weeks to have some effect. If there is no improvement after this period, then the dose is increased or the medication is changed. Usually, the treatment period lasts for about a year, and the medication is decreased gradually after this.
Sometimes, certain patients suffer from panic attacks after being removed off the medication. In such cases, the medication is continued for a few more weeks, under the guidance of the physician.

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