Conventional and Alternative Medical Treatments for Panic Attacks

Panic attacks are yet another medical disorder for which the health industry has no adequate explanation regarding the cause. Evidence exists that points to panic attacks having some genetic basis as well as a biochemical basis. Other studies point to panic attacks being a symptom of phobias, depression, alcohol and drug abuse and Seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

A panic attack is essentially a sudden onslaught of feelings that revolve around fear that can grow to the point of sheer terror. Symptoms of a panic attack include hyperventilation and increased heartbeat. The treatment of panic attacks ranges across the entire field of convention and alternative medicine. The conventional approach includes psychotherapy, supports systems and cognitive-behavior therapy that exposes the sufferer to the cause of panic within a safe and orderly environment. Therapy tries to teach the patient how to cope with the symptoms of a panic attack by encouraging such things as muscle relaxation and breathing control. A hallmark of therapy is also the intent to teach the patient that panic need not necessarily lead to catastrophe. Some antidepressants are prescribed for those suffering panic attacks. Anti-anxiety drugs like alprazolam are also used to treat the disorder, but carry with them a much greater potential for dependence.

Alternative medical treatments to deal with panic attacks offer a little something for everyone. Aromatherapy uses the essential oil of lavender to help relieve anxiety and stress. Those who rely on aromatherapy are encouraged to take a small bottle with them at all times from which they can place a few drops onto a handkerchief for inhaling once the panic begins to set in. Herbal therapy is somewhat similar to aromatherapy and the purpose regarding panic attacks is to help the patient relax and soothe anxiety. Common herbal therapies for treating panic attacks include consuming a tea made from skullcap, valerian or lemon balm.

Hypnotherapy is an alternative approach that has much in common with psychotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Hypnosis brings about a state of deep relaxation that can help guide the therapy toward a fuller understanding the deep-rooted cause behind the panic. Another alternative treatment for panic attack focuses on the central symptom of hyperventilation. Patients are encouraged to learn how to control their breathing which can in turn reduce the anxiety experienced during an actual attack. An offshoot of this is meditation as a means of controlling the ability to relax when a panic attack comes on.

Nutritional means of controlling panic attacks include cutting back on caffeine, alcohol, sugar and any kind of stimulant medication. Magnesium is encouraged as it acts as a natural tranquilizer.