Best Treatment for Panic Disorder

If you feel afraid because you really are in danger of harm, that’s appropriate fear and you should respond to it by finding safety. But if you feel fear…especially more fear or dread than the situation deserves…that just may be anxiety interfering in your peace of mind and your life.

But, if suddenly and unexpectedly, you become overwhelmed with fear, your heart beats rapidly, you’re short of breath, you feel like you’re choking or even suffocating, you’re shaking and feel dizzy and faint… that may be a panic attack. Especially if there’s nothing happening to cause the panic.

Signs of a Panic Disorder

Most people experience a little anxiety before a presentation or when meeting someone they don’t know, and that mild momentary anxiety is pretty common and no big deal.  Because it’s mild.  And it’s momentary.

But if you’re overwhelmed with dread and the feeling something awful is about to happen, with all the symptoms described above, you’re probably having a panic attack.

Over 6 million people suffer from a panic disorder, and far more experience anxiety more than they’d like to. Turns out anxiety is the most widespread  psychiatric disorder of all.

Sometimes an incident or circumstance can trigger a panic attack in you even if you’ve never had one before. Unexpectedly. Just because it happens once or twice, it doesn’t signal a disorder… it can be your reaction to something that threw you off balance.

Symptoms of Panic Disorder

But, if this just keeps happening – and then starts happening randomly —  and if the symptoms or episodes are so intense they interfere with your life, your activities, your job, or your relationships, you just may have panic disorder.

“I don’t know what’s wrong I just…”

“I want to visit my family, but I stand by the door with my heart beating like mad, and my throat closes and I just can’t put put my hand on the doorknob and open it. Even though I try and try, I just can’t seem to do it… just feel frozen.  What’s wrong with me..??”

When you have panic disorder, you may feel unable to cope with a part of every day life (could be any part)…unable to make your mind even think about how to cope with a given subject… your emotions freeze along with any purposeful activity.

When you step into an elevator, and your palms sweat, or you pour sweat from your arm pits, maybe you feel weak in the knees, or a little sick to your stomach, and your throat gets dry and seems to close up …and you can’t breathe… those are signs of a panic attack.  But it can occur in an elevator, or a car. In the store. Or just on your couch or at your desk. You could be doing nothing.  You usually are just doing nothing.

And the symptoms are right there, and immediate, and they can last for 10 or 15 minutes.  It can take a couple of hours before they completely die down.These symptoms may continue or subside. But if they continue, they can escalate to more alarming symptoms.

Sometimes you begin to fear having a panic attack in certain places—in the place where it first happened (e.g., the car, the grocery store), or in places were you think it would be hard to exit from if it happened again.  If you start to avoid those places more and more, and narrow down your circle of what you can do and where you can comfortably go, you may be on your way to developing agoraphobia.

You can have panic disorder without or without agoraphobia. And you can have agoraphobia with or without panic disorder.

It’s pretty terrible.

Are Signs of Panic Attack Similar to a Heart Attack?

They can be. They may include chest pain, shooting pains in chest, arms, and face…shortness of breath…weakness in your legs, nausea, and vomiting. Such severe symptoms sometimes result in a 911 call for heart attack that turns out to be signs of a panic attack.

Severe panic disorder can become crippling. It can interfere with things you want to accomplish, places you want to go, connections with people you want to make.

And the thing about panic, whether it’s based on social anxiety, or a specific person or circumstance or phobias like fear of heights, or fear of clowns, or even nothing you can think of, is that it has a way of creating more panic and fear …of itself!

Just thinking about the panic you’ll feel in a certain situation makes you fear being in that situation again and feeling that fear. Panic Disorder can twist you into a horrific tangled spiral that’s hard to stop on your own, and that seems to create more episodes of panic more often.

The best treatment for panic disorder can include psychotherapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy and antidepressants as well as anxiolytics. Sadly, these treatments are only effective in about 1/3 of cases.

The longer you suffer from panic disorder without real relief, the more treatment-resistant this disorder becomes. Studies have shown that mood and anxiety disorders that continue without effective treatment, increasingly become more unlikely to be relieved by traditional medication therapies in the long term.

It’s so important to get the best treatment for panic disorder quickly.

But there’s an even more important reason:  panic disorder can sometimes give rise to other anxiety disorders.  It’s almost like it primes the system for developing generalized anxiety, obsessive thinking, and the replaying of traumatic memories.

It also lowers the threshold for developing depression.  About 60% of people who have panic disorder experience a major depressive episode.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for Panic Disorder

However, something with outstanding potential for remission has emerged with promising results: Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) for panic disorder.

This highly sophisticated technology involves a coil that creates a magnetic field that sends tiny, gentle pulses into the brain.  The device is placed over a spot on the top side of your head. It’s placed over the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex when treating depression. There are robust responses to treatment even when multiple medications and different kinds of psychotherapy haven’t worked.

To treat anxiety, the coil is placed on the right over the area where the amygdala area when treating anxiety. When these pulses stimulate the brain cells they send these pulses deep into the brain where moods and emotions are regulated.

 The FDA approved Neurostar TMS years ago for this purpose. We use Neurostar and up to 75% of our patients achieve full remission of their symptoms.

For anxiety disorders, there are several new protocols being studied to treat anxiety disorders, including panic disorder.  Protocols that use right-sided placement instead of left-sided to quiet the amydgala, What happens is that general anxiety lessens, fear lessens, and worries dissipate.  It becomes much harder for panic to spike.

The result is that anxiety is dampened and resilience is fostered  by healthier, more functional brain activity. You feel relaxed, and panic dissipates and subsides.

Painless, pleasant, short-duration treatment sessions

TMS treatments last less than an hour, and continue daily for about  4-6 weeks. Somewhere around the 15th session you can begin to notice  a real difference in the way you feel and how well you function. Situations that used to trigger a panic attack no longer do, and little by little you find you see things in a more normal way.

TMS therapy for panic disorder is a remarkable, 21st century up-to-date advanced treatment option. We’re right on the cutting edge as it’s being studied around the country and across the world. And of course, like the rest of the world, we need much more data and research to determine which protocols and placements are best for panic disorder. We also need to learn how much improvement you can expect.

So as we wait, we offer you the best possible treatment options for anxiety and panic disorder, and stay on top of innovative developments as they happen.

If you suffer from anxiety, recurring panic attacks, or diagnosed panic disorder and have tried other treatments to no avail, effective treatment can be life-changing for you. And we offer that, too, at Innovative Psychiatry in South Windsor, Ct.  Call 860.648.9755 or email