12 Ways to Stop a Panic Attack

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Xanax has boxed warnings. These are the most serious warnings from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Boxed warnings alert doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.

Using benzodiazepines, even as prescribed, can lead to physical dependence and withdrawal if you stop taking the drug suddenly. Withdrawal can be life threatening.

Using benzodiazepines can also lead to misuse and addiction. Misuse of benzodiazepines increases your risk of overdose and death.

Only take these drugs as your doctor prescribes. Talk with your healthcare provider if you have any concerns about safely taking a benzodiazepine.

How to stop a panic attack

Panic attacks can be scary and may hit you quickly. Here are 12 strategies you can use to try to stop or manage panic attacks. Some may help you in the moment, while others can help in the longer term.

1. Seek counseling

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Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and other types of counseling can often help people who have panic attacks and who have panic disorders. CBT aims to help you change the way you see challenging or frightening situations and to help you find new ways to approach these challenges as they arise.

You can find CBT for individuals or groups, online or face-to-face, and the length of treatment can also vary. In exposure-based CBT, your therapist will expose you to something that can trigger a panic attack and help you work your way through it.

As well as changing behavior, there is some evidence that CBT might affect structures in your brain that are responsible for panic symptoms.

In 2018, some researchersTrusted Source found evidence that people who attended four weekly sessions of exposure-based CBT experienced changes in the neural pathways involved in panic symptoms. However, this was an early study, and more research is needed.

In 2018, 37 people in Korea attended a mindfulness-based program once a week for 4 weeks, to see if brief treatment would help reduce symptoms of panic disorder. One aspect of the treatment was to focus on their heart rate, as some people experience cardiovascular symptoms during a panic attack.

The findings suggested that the participants could better manage their symptoms using their own thought processes after the treatment. However, this was a small study, and there was no control group. More research is needed to find out how effective short-term therapy can be.

2. Take medications

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Benzodiazepines, such as alprazolam (Xanax), can help treat the symptoms of panic when they occur.

However, they won’t help treat an underlying anxiety disorder and can quickly lead to dependence. For this reason, doctors only recommend them for short-term use during a crisis.

Because benzodiazepines are a prescription medication, you’ll likely need a panic disorder diagnosis to have the medication on hand.

In some cases, a doctor may prescribe anti-depressants for long-term use. Examples include:

  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as escitalopram (Lexapro) or fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), such as duloxetine (Cymbalta)
  • anti-anxiety drugs, for instance, azapirone (Buspirone)

Some anti-seizure medications, such as pregabalin or clonazepam, can also help treat anxiety.

Which drugs can treat anxiety disorder?

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