Is There a Cure for Panic Disorder?

FAQs About Panic Disorder

Once diagnosed as having panic disorder, many panic sufferers question if they can be cured of this condition.  When seeking out your treatment options, it is important to be wary of anyone who offers a “cure” for panic disorder. Currently, there is no cure for panic disorder. However, there are many treatment options available that can help those with panic disorder to safely and effectively manage their symptoms.

Keep in mind that even after significant progress, your panic disorder symptoms can reappear at different times in your life.

Read ahead to learn more about current treatment options for panic disorder and how to maintain recovery once treatment has ended. 

Medications for Panic Disorder

Prescribed medications are a popular choice for panic disorder sufferers. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications are the most commonly prescribed medications to help lessen panic-related symptoms. Even though they were originally used to treat depression, antidepressant medications have been found to effectively help decrease symptoms of panic and anxiety. Over continuous use, antidepressants may help in reducing the frequency of panic attacks.

Anti-anxiety medications, on the other hand, work quickly to provide relief from panic attacks. A class of anti-anxiety medications, known as benzodiazepines, can also help lower anxiety and diminish the intensity of panic attacks.

These medications work quickly to stop a panic attack from escalating, leaving the person feeling more at ease. 

Psychotherapy for Panic Disorder

Psychotherapy involves meeting with a trained professional on a regular basis to explore emotional issues, learn valuable skills and behaviors, and develop new ways to cope with panic disorder symptoms.

  During your initial psychotherapy session, your therapist will perform an assessment to determine your diagnosis. At your intake interview, you will be asked to discuss your current symptoms, past medical history, and other pertinent information. This will allow your therapist to determine a treatment plan that will best suit your particular needs.

Throughout therapy, your therapist will draw on specific theories of psychotherapy or techniques that have been researched and found effective in treating panic disorder. Two of the most common forms of psychotherapy utilized for panic sufferers include: cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and panic-focused psychodynamic psychotherapy (PFPP).

A therapist can use CBT techniques to assist you in changing negative thinking patterns and cultivating healthier behaviors. Additionally, CBT may help with decreasing anxiety, improving self-esteem, and managing panic attacks. CBT often involves homework assignments in which you can practice the new skills you have learned and report progress back at each session.

If using PFPP, a therapist would focus more on psychological conflicts and hidden painful emotions. Through PFPP, defense mechanisms may be broken down so that uncomfortable and distressful feelings are brought to the surface. Once available to the conscious mind, these emotions can be dealt with and panic disorder symptoms can be reduced. 

Self-Help for Panic Disorder

Self-help activities are strategies that you can practice on your own to assist in reducing panic and anxiety symptoms. Self-help books, guides, and other resources contain exercises that provide step-by-step instructions of these activities. Some common self-help techniques include relaxation exercises, the use of visualization, changing negative thoughts and self-defeating beliefs, journal writing, and taking care of oneself, such as getting enough sleep and practicing proper nutrition. 

Maintaining Success After Treatment

Even after years of keeping panic and anxiety in check, symptoms can resurface. To keep your panic disorder symptoms manageable, you will need to work on maintaining the skills you have learned throughout treatment. Continuing to build on and practice the skills that you developed through therapy can promote long-lasting recovery. You can also continue to work on self-improvement through continual practice of self-help activities.

Social support can also be a way to find encouragement to stay on your path towards recovery. Such support may be found through understanding friends and family members, group therapy, or local or online support groups. Additionally, be certain to make follow-up appointments with your providers, as they too are part of your social support network. Set up an appointment 6 months after your last of treatment as a way to check in and ensure you are still successfully managing panic disorder.

Corey,Gerald. (2012). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy, (9th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Brooks/Cole.

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