Anxiety is part of normal human behavior and functions as a defense mechanism which will protect people from danger. However, if anxiety is not longer functional it becomes a real problem. An anxiety disorder is not a rare problem; the life-time prevalence of any anxiety disorder is 18.5% for women and 10.4% for men. This article will give some basic information about how to treat anxiety attacks.
The treatment of anxiety disorders is based on two different approaches, the first one is treatment with medicines, and the second is cognitive therapy. I will explain both ways how to treat anxiety attacks.
Medicines used to treat anxiety can be subdivided in two groups. First are the serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), serotonin is a hormone which conducts signals from nerve to nerve in the brain. When the reuptake is decreased by the medication, it means that there is more serotonin available. SSRI’s are used as antidepressiva , but they are also really effective to treat anxiety attacks. Examples of SSRI’s commonly used are: Paxil (paroxetine, Luvox (fluvoxamine) and Zoloft (Sertraline). SSRI’s have to be taken for a few weeks before evaluating the results. Most people can be treated with SSRI without any problems; however, there are side effects that people have to be aware of. The most common side effects are a dry mouth, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea and loss of appetite. Controversially, within the first two weeks, people can have an increase of their anxiety. It is important to be aware of this before starting the medicine and to know that this is temporary.
The second group of medicines prescribed for anxiety is the Benzodiazepines. These are tranquilizers which can reduce the symptoms of anxiety. Examples of Benzodiazepines are Valium (diazepam), Alprazolam (Xanax) and clonazepam (Klonopin). Benzodiazepines are well tolerated; the reason why you have to be careful is that they can be addictive when used for a longer period.
Cognitive therapy is another option to treat anxiety. The treatment success is comparable to medicines. Cognitive therapy focuses on the assumption that an anxiety attack is a vicious circle. Anxiety is not only an emotion; there are also physical symptoms like sweating, palpitations and dizziness. People with an anxiety attack often tent to think that the physical symptoms means their hart is going to stop, they are going to faint or they will die. These kind of thought automatically increase the feeling of anxiety, this are scary thoughts for everyone. The fear increases the physical symptoms and so on, and so on. Cognitive therapy’s aim is to interrupt this vicious circle by realizing that the thought that you are going to die or faint, is an unrealistic and unhelpful though.
How to treat anxiety attacks is either by medication, by cognitive therapy or the combination of this two. However, always search for a professional to give advice.