A type of psychotherapy called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the recommended treatment for panic attacks and panic disorder. CBT works to help you understand what a panic attack is and teaches you different ways of thinking and behaving to reduce and stop the symptoms of a panic attack. CBT has been found to be more effective in comparison to a placebo pill or a psychological control condition (Hofmann et al. 2008).
Medications such as antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and beta blokers can help reduce the level of anxiety during certain situations that trigger panic attacks or when someone is struggling with agoraphobia and does not to leave the home. However, medication often comes with side effects and may not help a person to stop and end panic attacks. People begin to attribute a reduction in panic attacks to the medication and then are fearful that the panic attacks will come back if they stop the medication.
Deep breathing, relaxation techniques, and meditation, are all great ways to reduce stress and ease the symptoms of anxiety. These work to turn on the parasympathetic nervous or the "Rest and Digest" system to increase the sense of calm. They do not, however, stop panic attacks at the root cause. Mental distraction is another common coping strategy but this too only provides temporary relief. Distraction is actually a form of avoidance that does not stop future panic attacks.
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