Panic Attack Medication
Either antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications are typically used to treat panic attacks. If your doctor prescribes an antidepressant (such as an SSRI, tricyclic, or MAOI inhibitor), you will need to take it for several weeks before your symptoms start to fade. Other types of medication for panic attacks, such as benzodiazepines, relieve the symptoms of anxiety more quickly, but are often prescribed only for a short time.
An Overview of Panic Attack Medication
Panic attack medication is one option available for treat this anxiety disorder (the other being cognitive behavioral therapy). Psychiatrists or other physicians can prescribe such medication for panic disorder. These doctors often work closely with psychologists, social workers, or counselors who provide psychotherapy.
The major classes of medication panic attacks include:
Antidepressants as a Medication for Panic Attacks
A number of medications that were originally approved for treating depression have been found to be effective for panic attack disorders. If your doctor prescribes an antidepressant, you will need to take it for several weeks before your symptoms start to fade. So it's important to not get discouraged and stop taking these medications before they've had a chance to work.
The different classes of antidepressants used as panic attack medication include:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors
Some of the newest antidepressants are called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. These medications act on one of the brain's chemical messengers called serotonin.
SSRIs tend to have fewer side effects than older antidepressants. People do sometimes report feeling slightly nauseated or jittery when they first start taking them, but that usually disappears with time. Some people also experience sexual dysfunction when taking some of these medications.
An adjustment in dosage or a switch to another SSRI will usually correct bothersome problems. It is important to discuss any side effects with your doctor so that he or she will know when there is a need for a change in your medication.
Fluoxetine, sertraline, fluvoxamine, paroxetine, and citalopram are among the SSRIs commonly prescribed for panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and social phobia. SSRIs are often used to treat people who have panic disorder in combination with OCD, social phobia, or depression.
These medications are started at a low dose and gradually increased until they reach a therapeutic level.