Panic Attack Medication

Published in Anxiety Panic Attacks on 20th May 2011

Panic Away for Panic Attacks

If you suffer from panic attacks, there are several approaches that you can use to bring your symptoms under control. One of these approaches involves the use of panic attack medication to address the chemical causes of your panic symptoms.

There are several types of panic attack medication that can effectively be used to free yourself from the extreme anxiety that comes with panic attacks. It’s important to carefully consider these medications, and discuss them with your doctor, so you can determine which type of medication is right for you.

The first category of panic attack medication is the beta blocker. This type of medication is primarily used to treat the physical symptoms of anxiety, including shaking, blushing, trembling, and heart palpitations. Beta blockers are particularly useful for controlling the physical symptoms of social anxiety.

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The most commonly prescribed beta blockers are Propranolol (Inderal) and Atenolol (Tenormin).

Although beta blockers tend to cause fewer side effects than other types of panic attack medication, there are a few side effects that you should watch out for – these include drowsiness, nightmares, light-headedness, and short term memory difficulties. Keep in mind that beta blockers are only a temporary fix for panic attacks – they will not solve the underlying issues that cause them.

The second category of panic attack medication is the tricyclic antidepressant. This type of medication works best for people who are dealing with both anxiety and depression, although medications in this category are also use to treat obsession disorders.

Weight gain, erectile dysfunction, loss of sex drive, and irritability are common side effects of tricyclic antidepressants. Like beta blockers, they should not be used for long term treatment of panic attacks.

Benzodiazepines are the third type of panic attack medications. They have been found to be effective in reducing panic attacks in 70 to 80 percent of patients; however, in some cases, they can worsen anxiety. Benzodiazepines can also cause irritability, drowsiness, slurred speech, and clumsiness.

Medications in this category include Alprazolam (Xanax), Diazepam (Valium), Clonazepam (Klonopin), and Lorazepam (Ativan).

Because of the potential for severe side effects, most people should try other types of panic attack medication before trying Benzodiazepines.

The fourth type of medication used to treat anxiety is the Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor (MAOI). Although MAOIs have historically been used to treat severe depression, they have been found to be effective in treating panic attacks as well.

The most commonly prescribed medications in this category are Phenelzine (Nardil) and Tranylcypromine (Parnate).

If you are taking an MAOI as a panic attack medication, you should watch for side effects such as low blood pressure, sexual dysfunction, increased appetite, weight gain, and insomnia.

The final type of panic attack medication is the Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI). Like MAOIs, SSRIs have primarily been used to treat depression, but have also proven effective for treating anxiety. They work by regulating serotonin levels in the brain – low serotonin levels are strongly linked to both depression and anxiety. SSRIs are intended for short term use, and while they can treat the symptoms of anxiety, they are not meant to provide a cure.

MMRIs include Fluoxetine (Prozac), Sertraline (Zoloft), Paroxetine (Paxil), and Fluvoxamine (Luvox).

Side effects of SSRIs include nausea, irritability, headaches, and insomnia.

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