Panic attacks can be overwhelming and might leave you thinking that everything that is going wrong can not be fixed. At least without medication. However, the continuous fear of having another panic attack often results in another attack and eventually a condition known as panic disorder.
This cycle can happen to anyone and can negatively impact how you live your day-to-day life. You find yourself extremely cautious and trying to avoid your next panic attack.
This article explores non-pharmaceutical measures that can be adopted to help you cope with panic attacks.
What Is a Panic Attack?
A panic attack is a brief period of fear marked by intense psychological and physiological sensations despite the absence of any real danger. Panic attack symptoms include increased heart rate, sweating, and hot flashes. Psychological symptoms include a sense of impending doom or danger, fear of dying or going insane, among others.
Panic attacks can be a result of many factors, including:
- Being under stress
- Excessive intake of caffeine
- Physical illness
- Strenuous exercise
- Exposure to a phobia
- Drug use
- Experience of personal loss
Panic attacks exist on a spectrum ranging from mild to severe. These attacks rarely go solo and appear across the different severities. The condition is often associated with phobias, depression, anxiety, and avoidance behavior.
Why Not Use Medication for Panic Attacks?
Unknown to many, not all panic attacks will lead to a panic disorder. If you find yourself constantly worried and scared that you might have your next panic attack, then you should consult a healthcare practitioner as you might have a panic disorder.
However, just as we are unique, the triggers of panic attacks are also different for each person. Therefore, you should observe what could be your triggers. Moreover, you might want to slow down on those energy drinks and morning coffees.
If you’re experiencing panic attacks (or suspect you might be), it is advised to consult a health professional. Here at DoMental, you can get in touch with a clinician from the comfort of your home and at your convenience.
With so many causes of panic attacks, one may find it challenging to figure out the best treatment option. There seems to be a misconception that medication is the ultimate solution to all psychological problems.
However, medication may not be needed when the panic disorder is not severe.
Every day we are fed information that paints pharmaceutical treatments as the best and maybe only treatment for panic attacks. This is not entirely true as non-pharmaceutical options can achieve good quality results.
There are many reasons why you should reconsider medication for panic attacks and think of treating these attacks without medication.
These are some of those reasons:
- Withdrawal symptoms: Medication for this condition is often associated with withdrawal symptoms. These medications are addictive hence the withdrawal symptoms. As a result, most users find themselves “trapped” and have to use these medications for the rest of their lives.
- Dependency: In addition, medication also results in a feeling of dependency. The user feels like they will not be able to function without these medications, and should they fail to access medication, they will likely fall apart.
- Sexual dysfunction: Due to the hormonal changes that come along with drugs for panic attacks, people who use these drugs have reported sexual dysfunction.
Why Is Therapy for Panic Attacks Effective?
Therapy is an effective way to deal with psychological conditions such as panic attacks. A therapist will help you unpack all the panic attack symptoms you might be experiencing. Once you have uncovered these symptoms, it becomes easier to dig up the triggers.
As mentioned earlier, triggers differ for each person. Consequently, a one-size-fits-all remedy for panic attacks is not the best idea. You need someone who will work with you to understand what is causing panic attacks in your case.
Instead of treating panic attacks with medication and focusing only on symptoms, therapy helps grasp the root of the problem and therefore is a long-term solution. It empowers you to handle panic attacks when they happen.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective way to treat panic attacks. It helps you shift your perception of the world. In turn, when exposed to triggers, you will be able to work your way past the triggers without experiencing any panic attacks.
Moreover, counseling also effectively deals with conditions such as anxiety disorder and PTSD, which could be underlying causes of panic attacks.
When conducted online, therapy comes with advantages such as anonymity, affordability, convenience, accessibility, effectiveness, and adaptability. Online counseling is an effective yet convenient way to interact with a therapist and get all the benefits you would still get from in-person sessions.
What Are the Therapy Options for Panic Attacks?
Some of the effective therapies that can be adapted to deal with panic attacks include:
- CBT: This form of therapy can be done individually or in groups, so it is an effective measure that can be used to help the person experiencing panic attacks and their family. Once the family is equipped, it can create an environment to deal with these attacks effectively.
Moreover, CBT helps you change how you perceive things that would normally result in experiencing panic attacks. This form of therapy will alter how you process panic attack triggers, thereby helping reduce your experiences of panic attacks.
- Exposure therapy: In an attempt to deal with panic attacks, one will likely find themselves avoiding things that would likely trigger attacks. This will result in one avoiding certain places and missing out on some life experiences.
Meeting one's triggers is part of exposure treatment. Following exposure, the therapist will work with the client to learn how to deal with these triggers so that they do not have a panic attack later on.
- ACT “Acceptance During Exposure”: This form of therapy will help one understand that avoiding panic attack triggers hinders the patient from living some great life experiences.
- Group therapy: Receiving therapy in group settings can be effective, especially for anxiety. In a group setting, they will feel like all the attention is not on them, making them feel more comfortable. However, others might find it difficult to communicate in group settings.
Group therapy will also provide a platform where individuals who experience panic attacks can share their experiences and how they cope with the attacks. It will help them adopt what seems to be working for others.
All these therapies can be conducted online. That will be an equally effective yet comfortable option. Online therapy creates a suitable environment for those with agoraphobia or other panic disorder and would prefer to have therapy from their own home or text therapist instead of meeting them alive.
Other Ways to Stop Panic Attacks
There are other strategies you can consider to deal with panic attacks. Some of them include:
- Practicing mindfulness
- Taking medication
- Reframing the problem
- Breathing exercises
- Using relaxing techniques
- Light and regular exercise
- Avoiding caffeine
Some of these suggestions will help remedy the situation immediately, while others will reduce the likelihood of panic attacks. Consider exploring these and many other options to see what works for you.
When to Consider Medication?
Medications for panic attacks are the most immediate solution. They are fast-acting; hence can help a person in the middle of an attack.
Considering the different ways under which medication and therapy help when they are combined, a person can get the most effective panic attack treatment. The two options complement each other, and therapy will prepare you for the long run.
Also, combining medication with therapy will help you deal with the underlying issues that could be triggering your panic attacks. Comorbid conditions such as depression and anxiety respond well to a combination of therapy and medication.
Medications and therapy require consistency for you to see the desired results. When you start on this journey, be prepared to go through it for a while to see the best results possible.
Remember, not one form of treatment will work for everyone. So, if one combination, form of therapy, or medication does not seem to work for you, consult your therapist so they can help you choose another option that could better suit you.
Overcome a Panic Attack With Therapy
The overwhelming sensation that comes with panic attacks can make it hard to cope independently. Should you not be interested in using medication for any of the various reasons explored in this article, online therapy is an effective alternative worth considering for treating panic attacks without medication. It can be done conveniently from anywhere, and it will provide long-term solutions that are empowering in a way.
At DoMental, we thrive at making the world a better place, one person at a time. Distance is not a barrier as we are able to be in every home. Do not hesitate to reach out to us so that we can pair you with one of our professional and experienced therapists!