Anxiety and panic attacks can be difficult to live with. It can affect your relationships and overall quality of life. However, there are many treatment options available. Please talk to your Dr or health care professional before undertaking any sort of treatment for mental illnesses. This list of common treatments for anxiety and panic attacks will hopefully help you feel more informed about your choices. I am not a Dr but have had experience with both anxiety and panic attacks and have tried many treatments to help me. Everyone will respond to different treatment options differently. I am not here to tell you what to do, just to help you feel more informed.
Common Treatments for Anxiety
Anxiety can be overwhelming and often feels like it takes over your life. The good news is, anxiety tends to respond to treatment.
Here are some of the more common treatments for anxiety.
Behavioural therapy is about just that – behaviour. It is not designed to delve into the patient’s past or explore the underlying causes of the patient’s anxiety. There are other types of therapy for that.
It does, however, help you identify patterns of thinking and behaving, and how those thoughts and behaviours are connected. The goal is to help the you manage the problem.
This kind of therapy teaches you to have rational responses to stressful situations rather than negative, self-abasing responses.
Cognitive therapy helps the you face – and therefore overcome – the irrational thoughts and beliefs that bring on an anxious response.
While there are several anxiety medications on the market, most experts agree that medication should be used in conjunction with some other sort of therapy. Medication is generally considered a short-term help, and, depending on the type of anxiety exhibited, is not a long-term solution.
This is basic, but effective. Exercise causes the brain to release endorphins, the “feel good” brain chemicals that help you relax and feel happy and content.
Exercise also uses your muscles and promotes good circulation. Daily exercise is best, but even regular exercise several times a week has proven helpful.
Meditation or Relaxation Techniques
Like regular exercise, these treatments need to be practised regularly. They can help release muscle tension. Meditation and relaxation also promote centred, calm patterns of thought.
While most of us think of a patient lying on a couch with a psychiatrist swinging a pocket watch in front of the patient’s face, modern, legitimate hypnosis is practised differently.
Performed by a hypnotherapist, hypnosis puts you into a deeply relaxed state. While you are in this state, the hypnotherapist suggests techniques and methods for managing your anxiety.
This treatment basically teaches you how to recognize your body’s anxiety symptoms. It “tunes you in” to your body’s cues so that you can recognize an oncoming episode of anxiety. If you can recognize its onset, you can learn to stop it from getting full-blown.
This usually involves talking to someone, and is sometimes called “talk therapy.” Therapists help you understand and identify what is going on, which then enables you to manage your anxiety.
Common Treatments for Panic Attacks
One of the ironies of panic attacks is the feeling that you are alone, or that you will embarrass yourself if you try to seek help or even go into public.
But it’s vital to get some sort of treatment so that the fear does not completely debilitate you. The good news is that panic attacks are treatable and tend to respond well to treatment. Here are some of the more common treatments for panic attacks.
While most therapists and doctors do not look at medication as a long-term solution, it is often employed in order to help the patient get a handle on the situation and seek help. It may be that you just need medication in order to seek out and benefit from non-medicated treatments.
Some of the medications used to treat panic attacks are:
These medications are helpful if you are in the middle of a panic attack, often bringing relief from the symptoms quickly.
These are anti-depressants and are meant to treat the overall frequency of panic attacks. These medications can also reduce the severity of the attacks. They are not used to alleviate symptoms right away.
Panic attacks do respond to various forms of non-medicated therapies. Here are some of the more effective, common ones.
Behavioural therapy can have different facets depending on the nature of the panic attacks. Basically, this kind of therapy helps you “unlearn” certain destructive behaviour patterns while learning constructive ones.
Behavioural therapists help you directly address your fears. Otherwise, you tend to spend all of your time avoiding possible panic attack triggers.
This is an aspect of behavioural therapy that involves the systematic exposure to whatever the patient fears until you can face that fear.
For example, if you have a paralyzing fear of flying in an aeroplane, the therapist may begin with having you simply walk up to a parked aeroplane. You may even be asked to touch the aeroplane. That will be all for the first session or even the first few sessions.
Then, as you build confidence, the therapist may ask you to take a step or two up the steps to the door of the aeroplane. Then you can work up to being inside the aeroplane without it moving. Slowly, in incremental steps, you will be able to “unlearn” the fear response and re-learn a calm response to flying in aeroplanes.
Meditation and Relaxation Techniques
Yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates, and other stretching types of exercises can help the body relax. The calm, deliberate, disciplined movements are the opposite of the chaotic muscle contractions of a panic attack and help your body learn how to have calm, peaceful, physical responses. The exercise itself in these techniques also helps panic attack sufferers.
Meditation can be practised independently of the above techniques or in conjunction with them. Once again, the measured, calm, focused thought processes emphasized in meditation can help you learn how to cope with everyday stressors.
- Depression.org is a great resource for not only depression but anxiety as well. Depression.org delves into common treatments for anxiety and panic attacks as well as information for people who live with someone with a mental illness
- The Mental Health Foundation has a wide range of resources from brochures to helplines and everything in between
These are the two websites I use a lot. They are packed full of information that is designed to help you. They are written in real language for real people.
Anxiety or panic attacks don’t need to rule your life. You can manage them with the right treatment. It may be a case of trial and error but you will get there. These are just the main common treatments for anxiety and panic attacks. Talk to your Dr or health care professional to see what options you have available.
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