Repeated attacks of severe anxiety leads to development of panic disorder, which are not restricted to any circumstances or particular situation. Somatic symptoms such as chest pain, palpitations and paraesthesiae in lips and fingers are common. The symptoms are in part due to involuntary over-breathing (hyperventilation). Person with panic attacks often fear that they are suffering from a serious illness such as a heart attack or stroke, and seek emergency medical attention. These episodes can occur at any time, even when you sleep.
Panic attacks usually lasts for less than 10 minutes. Although some of the symptoms may persist for a long period of time. People who have had one panic attack are at greater risk for having subsequent panic attacks than those who have never experienced. There is worries about having more episodes when the attack occurs repeatedly.
How can you control or prevent your panic attack?
The cause of panic attack is unknown, for this its treatment vary person to person. Medications are used to prevent or alleviate immediate symptoms of panic attack. You can control it without medications by psychotherapy (CBT), relaxation and/or meditations, that make you relax and relieve your anxiety.
Medications commonly used to treat or prevent panic attack includes -
1) Anti-anxiety medications such as Xanax, Klonopin, and Ativan. These drugs are used to control acute attack, but not good for long-term use. Propranolol or Atenolol can be use for long term where indicated.
2) Some Anti-depressant can be used to prevent anxiety and reduce the frequency & severity of panic attacks. Commonly used drugs are some SSRI - Prozac, Paxil, Celexa, Lexapro and Zoloft. These group of drugs considered as first line drug for the treatment of panic disorder.
3) Certain newer anti-convulsant drugs are under trial for the treatment of both anxiety and panic attacks. They includes - Lyrica, Neurontin.
Dr. Aftab, GP