Patient Comments: Panic Attacks - Effective Treatments

What kinds of treatments have been effective for your panic attacks?

Comment from: Mariellyn25, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: August 13

I've had panic disorder for eight months now. Panic attacks are the scariest thing I've ever been through. Every day is a struggle, but I've been dealing with it so far pretty much on my own. My treatment so far is Xanax, only when I need it, such as when the attack is very bad. I do not always want to depend on pills to get me by, so I only take one when I cannot stand it, or when it's at its worst. I find also that the more I know and learn, the more I'm starting to except that I'm not dying, my heart is fine, etc. So find out as much as you can about panic disorder. The more you deal with your disorder, the less likely you are to call 911 over and over. I also find lying down and breathing deeply and slowly helps a great deal. Buy or get some books on hypnosis, they helped me. It calms you and that always helps. As silly as this sounds, if you are lying down and feel one coming on say, "Come and get me," or "I'm fine," and get up and do something, the dishes, or call a friend. This can sometimes help. Lying around all the time is not a good idea. I have a hard time driving and going somewhere public, such as stores and restaurants. But I make myself (when I'm feeling decent) drive a short distance every day or go to the store. The more you stay in and lie around feeling sorry for yourself, the more you'll have attacks and feel sorry for yourself. Fight them, and make due. So, relaxation, meditation, hypnosis, Xanax, shoulders to lean on and friends to talk to, physical activities, and acceptance are my treatments, for now at least. Give them a try.

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Published: June 24

I have tried quite a few meds that didn't work, SSRIs, tricyclics, etc., I also tried cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and hypnosis—those didn't work either. The only thing that works about 60% of the time is Xanax. I've had paradoxical reactions to all other meds. For me, it's a cyclical condition that comes and goes with no correlation to what is going on in my life. I have a family history on both sides of my parents with this.

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Published: June 18

My first panic attack came when I was 20 years old and in college. I went to the infirmary in the middle of the night, convinced that I was having a heart attack. I am now 54 years old and have been taking Lexapro for three years. I also keep Ativan with me at all times, although I haven't taken it in two years. Just knowing that I have it helps me stay calm. Fortunately, I have a wonderful doctor who doesn't give me a hard time about prescribing medication. My worst times are when I am away from home, on vacation or traveling for professional reasons. The most effective I thing I do that is not medication-related is having something other than my panic to focus my mind on. I always take along a set of crossword puzzles when I travel, or I do some paperwork that requires organization and structure to complete. People will tell you that you shouldn't panic because you know that you won't die, that what is happening is familiar, that you can calm down with deep breathing or walking around. These are usually people who are well-meaning but who have never had a panic attack and don't know that rational thought is often impossible in the midst of one. So I have learned to keep something with me as a distraction. So far, this has worked, but I still wouldn't want to go off my meds.

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Comment from: cherokee, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: August 20

I have depression and panic attacks. I have been on medications for a very long time. I've been on almost every anxiety medication. I'm on ativan now, 2mg.

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Comment from: Shari, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: July 26

I first had panic attacks at age 21. Over the next 10 years, I had at multiple bouts of panic disorder, lasting about 6-8 months each. If I wasn't having a panic attack, I was anticipating the next one, 24 hours per day. I tried a psychiatrist, a family doctor, and finally, a new doctor referred me to a licensed clinical social worker who had experienced it herself. She worked with me, using the CHAANGE program. It it cognitive/behavioral therapy. While working the program, I did take anti-depressants, and occasionally, a fraction of a Xanax tablet. For me, the most important aspect was learning that a panic attack was just an adrenaline rush, brought on by being constantly tense. I learned to relax my body, tightening my muscles, then relaxing them until I had worked every one of them. I also learned to use visualization to relax and to let go of my panicky thoughts. After several months, I was able to ditch the anti=depressants. I have not had a panic attack in 18 years.

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Comment from: Tim1972, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: May 15

I have suffered from panic attacks and anxiety for the past several years. My symptoms include difficulty breathing and a rapid heartbeat. I refuse to go the medication approach, and instead took the herbal, natural road. To cut to the chase, I have been using an herbal product called Relax-V and it works well for me. The tablet dissolves under the tongue and I start to feel a difference in just a few minutes. If you are into natural remedies, then you should try this one.

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