Panic attacks can interfere greatly with a patient’s social, professional and personal life. The first-line treatment is usually a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Medication broadly addresses two time horizons. In the short-run, benzodiazepines or benzodiazepine-like drugs reduces anxiety within twenty minutes to an hour, which is too long to treat an acute panic attack biologically, but which gives the patient a greater sense of control over the feelings of anxiety, which can in turn reduce anxiety and panic attacks. In the medium- to long-run, antidepressants with effectiveness on serotonergic pathways reduce or eliminate anxiety and the occurrence of panic attacks in the majority of patients. The group of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) is probably the best researched and clinically most widely used family of antidepressants for cases of anxiety and panic attack disorders.
Keywords: panic attack, medication, psychiatry
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Dr Jonathan Haverkampf, M.D. MLA (Harvard) LL.M. trained in medicine, psychiatry and psychotherapy and works in private practice for psychotherapy, counselling and psychiatric medication in Dublin, Ireland. He also has advanced degrees in management and law. The author can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on the websites www.jonathanhaverkampf.ie and www.jonathanhaverkampf.com.
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