The main categories of treatment for anxiety attacks include medication and psychotherapy. Within the medication category, there are several options to treat anxiety attacks. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), which are antidepressants, are among the possible treatments. Doctors may prescribe serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), tricyclic antidepressants, and benzodiazepines, which are tranquilizers, as well. Psychotherapy treatment for anxiety attacks, however, is usually limited to two main types: cognitive and psychodynamic.
SSRIs and MAOIs are both antidepressants used in the treatment of anxiety attacks. SSRIs are usually considered safe and do not cause many side effects. As such, many doctors prescribe them as a first line of treatment for anxiety episodes. MAOIs are also effective for treating those who experience anxiety attacks. They are, however, less likely to be prescribed because they have the potential to cause fatal side effects.
Two other antidepressant classes are also among those used for anxiety attacks. One category consists of medication called SNRIs. The other category includes medications that are called tricyclic antidepressants. Doctors usually prefer to prescribe SNRIs instead of tricyclic antidepressants. This may be due to the fact that tricyclic antidepressants are more likely to cause side effects that affect the heart and a patient’s blood sugar levels.
In some cases, benzodiazepines, which are tranquilizers, are also used for the treatment of anxiety. These medications can be effective for treating anxiety but may also cause a patient to become physically or mentally dependent on them. This is mostly a risk, however, when a person must use medications in this category over a long period of time or in extremely high doses.
Psychotherapy may also help a patient deal with anxiety attacks. For example, a person may undergo cognitive therapy, which is aimed at changing thought patterns that lead to panic attacks. This type of therapy also focuses on changing the way a person usually reacts to events and thoughts that cause episodes of anxiety. Cognitive therapy may also aim to help an individual develop better coping skills for dealing with the things that trigger his panic attacks. Additionally, this type of therapy may involve the recreation of anxiety episodes.
Sometimes psychodynamic therapy is used for the treatment of anxiety episodes. For this type of therapy, a therapist helps a person examine the inner thoughts that lead to his anxiety. This type of therapy focuses more on developing awareness of inner struggles rather than recreating attacks.