Wednesday, January 6, 2010

How to Overcome Panic Attacks and Live a Happy Life

I had so much pain watching my child deal with anxiety and suffer from panic attacks.

I felt helpless and scared.

If you or a loved one is also afflicted with this condition I don't have to tell you how distressing, and even debilitating anxiety and panic attacks are to living a normal and happy life.

The biggest problem we had with the panic attacks is that they had no obvious triggers nor warnings that they were about to occur.

Even when my kid was in a great mood during the whole day it could suddenly and without warning end up with suffering from a panic attack as the day progressed. This certainly left my child as well as the rest of the family feeling severely distressed and saddened.

My wife and I kept wondering what had we done wrong. Was it something we had done raising our kids and if so, why just the one child. Was it a symptom of type A personality? Perhaps it was the perfectionist traits we observed.

Added to our concern was the fact that panic attacks are the kind of condition which will get other people starting to shun you when they discover that you suffer from them. Our child (okay young adult now) felt isolated sometimes and thought it would be better to stay home from public gatherings and even family outing in fear that another panic attack would strike.

Through extensive research we discovered that predisposition to panic attacks is commonly believed to be a result of both biological (genetic) and environmental factors.

Well, we thought, if that wasn't proof that we were 100% to blame as parents. Nothing further was from the truth. It wasn't our fault and it certainly was not our child's fault. Don't let guilt even enter into the equation of finding the best panic treatments available.

Thankfully, panic attacks can be overcome - and you even have choices between panic disorder medication and/or natural remedies and techniques.

We first used the professional medical establishments to make sure it was not a serious physical or mental problem. In the meantime, we researched the heck out of the conditions and discovered alternative non-drug methods and techniques.

We didn't know what to do. The medical profession was pushing the latest "wonder drugs" and the mental health profession was pushing for extensive long-term counseling sessions.

Between all of us we decided to try some of the natural methods we discovered through our research before going the medication route as it was described to us as a "treatment" instead of a cure. The reason? Cost and imposition on schedules. Now, many may say how horrible! But, try to get a teenager and young adult to commit to a demanding regiment of counseling sessions, particularly when insurance doesn't cover all the cost.

Here is what we learned about the counseling route...

Psychotherapy approaches the issue as a result of the environmental factors in the persons home life, work or school life, and social life. The counseling was to be used in conjunction with medication therapy.

Psychotherapy studies have shown good results in helping people learn how to overcome panic attacks through the use of behavior and cognitive therapies. These therapies essentially focus on changing ingrained thought patterns could be causing the panic attacks.

Here is what we learned about the medication route...

The doctor "preferred" method of treatment for panic attacks is through the use of anti-depressants called selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors or "SSRIs". A commonly prescribed SSRIS is Prozac.

Panic attacks are diagnosed as a disorder caused by disruptions in the serotonin system, either due to low levels of serotonin or due to decreased sensitivity to serotonin. If the panic attacks is a result of low levels of serotonin, the SSRI would replenish them and cause the condition to subside.

Alternatively if the panic attack is due to decreased sensitivity to serotonin, then the increased levels of serotonin from the SSRI would make up for decreased sensitivity and cause the condition to subside.

Either way the sufferer would have relief. That's great...except for the numerous side effects. The major one being weight gain and loss of sexual performance. Not exactly what a teen or young adult wants in order to live a happy and fulfilling life. Though parents are naturally less concerned with the later side effect during the teen years!

Here is what we learned about the natural remedies route...

There are many self-help guru's promoting natural products for anxiety and panic attack relief. Some are good, many are just okay. A select few are fantastic.

Here is the key. One that works wonders for one person may not provide any benefit for another. Everyone is a unique person with different miracles of nature making up who they are physically and mentally. If one method does not work, try another. If none of them work then try the drug and medication route.

By all means, use support groups if they are available and you are so inclined. Don't force anyone to go as that is counter-productive to the cure. Learning how to overcome panic attacks is not going to be easy, but it doesn't have to be painful either.

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