Important Considerations Before Beginning Drug Therapy

High-potency benzodiazepines relieve symptoms quickly and have few side effects, although drowsiness can be a problem. Because people can develop a tolerance to them -- and would have to continue increasing the dosage to get the same effect -- benzodiazepines are generally prescribed for short periods of time.
One exception is panic disorder, for which benzodiazepines may be used for 6 months to a year. People who have had problems with drug or alcohol abuse are not usually good candidates for these medications, however, because they may become dependent on them.
Some people experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking benzodiazepines, although reducing the dosage gradually can diminish those effects. In certain instances, the symptoms of anxiety can rebound after these medications are stopped. Potential problems with benzodiazepines have led some physicians to shy away from using them or to use them in inadequate doses, even when they are of potential benefit to the patient.
A specific type of benzodiazepine, lorazepam, is a particularly useful for treating panic attacks.

Questions to Ask Prior to Panic Attack Treatment

Before taking medication as part of your treatment:
  • Ask your doctor to tell you about the effects and side effects of the drug he or she is prescribing.


  • Tell your doctor about any alternative therapies or over-the-counter medications you are using.


  • Ask your doctor when and how the medication will be stopped. Some drugs can't safely be stopped abruptly; they have to be tapered slowly under a physician's supervision.


  • Be aware that some medications are effective in panic disorder only as long as they are taken regularly, and symptoms may occur again when the medications are discontinued.


  • Work together with your doctor to determine the right dosage of the right medication to treat your panic attack disorder.
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Panic Attack Information

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