Those who have a panic disorder suffer from regular panic attacks. This can be incredibly life-limiting, not in the least because the debilitating fear of experiencing another panic attack can bring on a panic attack in and of itself. Those who suffer from this condition, therefore, will be helped by knowing the 3 effective treatment options to help manage panic disorder. It is important to understand that no one form of treatment will work for everybody. Rather, people will often have to try out each of the treatment options, and they may even have to use all three of them at the same time for a long time.

1. Psychotherapy

The first one among the 3 effective treatment options to help manage panic disorder is psychotherapy, in which a therapist educates the person suffering from a panic disorder. Patients can learn about the 'fight or flight' response that occurs in their body, and which physiological sensations accompany that. When they are able to identify and recognize those sensations, they have taken the first step towards treatment. The best way to deliver this treatment is through individual therapy. Family therapy is wholly ineffective, although group therapy may work. Generally, psychotherapy is only offered for a short period of time, after which other forms of treatment need to be explored.

2. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

CBT helps patients to recognize their behavior, enabling them to either modify or even eliminate their responses and thought patterns that cause the disorder. They learn about their symptoms, and what is really causing them. Generally, during CBT, patients require therapy three times per week, and they will have to address the various issues that lie at the root of the panic attacks. This is very intense, but also very effective.

3. Medication

The majority of people with a panic disorder do not require medication and can control their symptoms with the above two therapies. Sometimes, however, medication is required, albeit often only for a short period of time. Most commonly, benzodiazepines (alprazolam or clonazepam) are prescribed. Sometimes, selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are also prescribed, which are antidepressants. However, those who have a panic disorder should never be medicated without also receiving therapy, as they will not be able to recover from the condition without understanding what panic is, and why they respond in the way that they do.

In very rare cases, people will need to receive long-term medication. Common drugs include alprazolam (Xanax) and clonazepam (Klonopin, Rivotril). Most physicians prefer these to antidepressants, because their side effects are far less severe. However, people can build up a dependence to Xanax, which is why it should be prescribed with care. With all these drugs, patients should not cease to take the medication all of a sudden, but they should taper off gradually. In fact, a sudden stopping of taking the medication can lead to seizures.

Prescription medication has a double role. First of all, it prevents further panic attacks and if they do occur, they are less severe and frequent. Secondly, it helps to lower anticipatory anxiety. This may make the patient more receptive to psychotherapy and CBT.

If you need more information on the 3 effective treatment options to help manage panic disorder, consult your physician.