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What does a panic attack feel like?

Yes, anti-anxiety medications are safe to use for the treatment of panic attacks. Before discussing the medications for the treatment of panic attacks, you should have detailed knowledge about panic attacks. You should know what are panic attacks, their symptoms, and how to treat them. This article will cover all these aspects of panic attacks.

What does a panic attack feel like?

A panic attack is an episode of intense stress and anxiety, fear, worry, and tension. Whenever you are stressed or anxious, you experience several physical and psychological changes. In most of the cases, panic attacks are unexpected and strike out of the blue. A panic attack may last from a few minutes to a few hours.

Panic attacks are very common and around 40 % of people experience panic attacks once in their lifetime. As anxiety is the main symptom of a panic attack, it is also known as an anxiety attack. When panic attacks remain untreated and you experience them frequently, they disturb your life. So, treating panic attacks is crucial, and anti-anxiety medications are most commonly used.

Now, the question is how you get to know if you are having a panic attack. Well, a few symptoms are observed in people having panic attacks which are:

·         excessive feelings of danger and fear

·         excessive anxiety and irrational thinking i.e. something bad is going to happen

·         feeling crazy and fear of losing control or dying

·         pounding heart with an irregular heart rate

·         trembling and shaking with tingling sensation in hands and feet

·         chills, sweating, or hot flushes

·         feeling lightheaded and dizzy

·         constriction in the chest and muscles causing chest and muscle pain

·         shortness of breathing

·         dry mouth, nausea, or abdominal discomfort

Treat panic attacks with anti-anxiety medications

Treating panic attacks is important to live a healthy and quality life. And good thing is that panic attacks are treatable. Several methods are there that are very effective in relieving panic attacks. Simple lifestyle changes and relaxation methods work well for anxiety. But when anxiety becomes chronic, these methods alone may not work. In that case, doctors suggest you take medications to cope with anxiety and treat panic attacks.

Various medications are on the market that work great for anxiety and panic attacks. The most commonly used medications to treat panic attacks are:

Antidepressant medications: Earlier antidepressants were used to treat several mood-related disorders. But some studies have shown that they are also effective in relieving anxiety and treating panic attacks. Now, these medications are used to treat mood disorders, anxiety and panic disorders, agoraphobia, etc. They work by affecting the working of several neurotransmitters in the brain like serotonin, norepinephrine, etc. They include several types of medications:

·         Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)

·         Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)

·         Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs)

·         Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)

Although these medications are effective in treating anxiety and panic attacks. But they have plenty of side effects and a tendency to cause dependance. So, doctors don’t prescribe these medications for long-term use.

Anti-anxiety medications: If you are having severe anxiety issues or panic attacks, your doctor may prescribe these medications. These medications are more effective in treating anxiety and panic attacks than antidepressants. These medications are CNS depressants and work by lowering the activity of the CNS. Moreover, they increase the activity of GABA neurotransmitters in the brain.

GABA has a relaxing effect on the brain due to which it helps in relaxing the nerves. Moreover, these medications come in the benzodiazepine class of medications that have sedative effects.

Safety tips to use anti-anxiety medications to treat panic attacks

We have already discussed the effectiveness of these medications. But there are a few things that you should take care of while taking these medications. Being benzodiazepines, they tend to form a habit or cause dependance. So, doctors prescribe them only for the short term.

You may develop resistance against these medications if you use them for long. In that case, you will need a higher dose of the medication to get the desired results.

These medications fall under the category of controlled substances to prevent their misuse or overdose. So, you can buy anti-anxiety medications only with a prescription from a certified health professional.

Always follow the doctor’s prescription while taking these medications. Don’t change the dose of medication on your own. Consult with the doctor in case you want to change the dose or don’t want to use the medication anymore. Don’t stop using the medications abruptly as they may show serious withdrawal symptoms.

Discuss the benefits and risks of these medications with the doctor if you are willing to take them. Moreover, discuss your medical history, and substance use history with the doctor. Do tell the doctor if you are allergic to benzodiazepines.

As these medications induce sedation and drowsiness, avoid taking them with alcohol or any opioid. Because alcohol and opioids will increase drowsiness which may lead to serious side effects. They may cause serious breathing problems and you may have an accident if you drive after taking the medication.

At last, I just want to say that you can manage anxiety and treat panic attacks. Anti-anxiety medications are very effective in managing anxiety and treating panic attacks. These medications are safe for panic attack treatment if you follow the doctor’s prescription. These medications work great if you take them according to your pharmacist’s instructions. 

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