The doctor bases diagnosis on the duration of symptoms, reported intensity, the frequency of panic attacks and the doctor’s observation of the patient’s behavior. The doctor then determines if the symptoms suggest panic disorder. Panic disorder is treated with a combination of therapies including psychotherapy, which is a type of counseling that addresses the emotional response to mental illness.
In psychotherapy, trained mental health professionals use certain strategies to help people understand and deal with their disorder. Cognitive behavioral therapy is another type of psychotherapy that helps a person change behaviors and thought patterns that lead to disturbing feelings.
As for medication, antidepressant drugs like Zoloft and antianxiety medications such as Ativan and Xanax are used to treat panic disorder, and sometimes heart medications are used to help with anxiety. If panic attacks continue after stopping treatment, then additional treatment is needed to help control and reduce panic attacks.
Additionally, relaxation techniques such as positive visualization and breathing retraining can help during an attack. Panic disorder sufferers can be successfully treated and go on to lead satisfying lives. Nearly 90% of people with panic disorder can find relief with appropriate treatment, but unfortunately many of them do not seek treatment.
Without treatment, panic disorder can severely impair quality of life and can have serious consequences. Untreated panic disorder can make a person discontinue any activities that possibly trigger a panic attack. This can make home life and normal work almost impossible.
Anticipatory anxiety is another complication of untreated panic disorder, and it is triggered merely by thinking about a possible anxiety attack. There is also agoraphobia, which means fear of being in situations or places where an attack may occur. This fear can make people avoid crowds and public places or even not leaving home. With regard to prevention, panic disorder cannot be prevented; nevertheless there are things that can reduce the symptoms like stopping or reducing consumption of caffeine.