For many years, medical professionals and psychologists treated panic attacks as merely a manifestation of anxiety. They felt that panic attacks were simply an outward expression of a person’s fear of external stimuli, particularly in social situations, and that medication and other treatments aimed at reducing anxiety were enough.
Recently, though, the medical and psychological fields have established a strong link between depression and panic attacks. Not every person who suffers from severe anxiety also suffers from depression, of course, but the link is sufficiently compelling that researchers have begun looking for treatments that address both conditions.
It is unclear whether depression triggers panic attacks, or vice versa; many researchers believe that each disorder fuels the other. Because a person feels depressed, he or she will likely become anxious when faced with the prospect of having to function in social situations. Then, he or she becomes depressed because of the way the feelings of panic and anxiety impede daily life.
Regardless of which condition aggravates the other, there are a number of treatments available to help you cope with depression and panic attacks. No single treatment works for everyone, so you may have to try a few different strategies to obtain measurable relief from your symptoms. Often, your doctor will recommend a comprehensive approach to treatment, in which several strategies are used together for maximum effectiveness.
Most people who suffer from depression and panic attacks begin with self help techniques. The most important of these techniques is educating yourself about the nature of your condition. Do the research needed to understand depression and panic attacks – what causes them, how they can be treated, and other people suffering from them cope with the day to day struggle of living with these conditions.
Meditation and exercise are two other important self help methods. Meditation will help you learn to adopt a calmer mindset, and approach your everyday life with a greater feeling of serenity. Exercise releases chemicals in the body that combat feelings of sadness and worry – plus, it helps reduce physical tension, which will make you feel better both mentally and physically. You’ll have more energy, so you’ll feel better about getting out around other people and attending to everyday tasks.
Counseling is another option for dealing with the effects of depression and panic attacks. By talking about your feelings and experiences, you can learn to view your symptoms as both manageable and treatable. Often, counseling can also assist you in identifying the root causes of your condition, and the circumstances that trigger bouts of sadness and anxiety. Over time, counseling can be a very effective tool for reducing the effects of depression and panic attacks.
Finally, medication is frequently used in conjunction with self help techniques and counseling. Your doctor may prescribe antidepressants and anti anxiety medications to help speed your recovery. Some medications, including tricyclic drugs such as Tofranil, Norpramin, and Aventyl are used to treat symptoms of both depression and panic attacks – if one of these medications works for you, you won’t have to worry about the possible adverse effects of taking multiple medications. Keep in mind, though, that there are a number of side effects associated with tricyclic antidepressants, including weight gain, irritability, and sexual dysfunction. If you notice any of these side effects, contact your doctor to discuss alternatives.