Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

Anxiety-panic disorders health centre

Select a topic to explore more.
Select An Article

Panic attacks & panic disorder: Symptoms, causes, treatment

(continued)

Self-help for panic attacks

Self-help approaches include:

  • Stay still and be somewhere safe, such as parking if driving when an attack is felt to be coming on
  • Focus on something that doesn’t threaten you and remember the attack will end soon - but don’t 'fight' the attack
  • Use breathing techniques - slow and deep - counting to 3 then breath in or out
  • Visualise something positive.

General lifestyle tips include:

  • Trying to relax
  • Exercise more
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet, cut down on sugary food and drink
  • Quit smoking
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol.

Joining a support group online or in person can also help - where experiences and coping techniques can be shared.

Medical and psychological treatment for panic disorder

Medical and psychological treatment for includes:

Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) - psychological 'talking therapy' to help address negative thoughts.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are antidepressants that help produce more serotonin brain chemicals. A low dose will be recommended to start with. If side effects of the medication cause discomfort, a doctor may be able to recommend an alternative drug.

Tricyclic antidepressants are a different type of antidepressant that work on brain chemicals noradrenaline and serotonin.

Pregabalin and clonazepam are anticonvulsant drugs that may help some people with panic disorder.

Who gets panic attacks?

Panic disorder can affect people of all ages - usually from the teenage years onwards.

The mental health charity Mind says panic disorder affects around 1.2% of the population.

Complications of panic disorder

Without help, a person with panic disorder has a higher chance of developing other phobias - including agoraphobia making leaving home a difficult experience.

Panic disorder also increases a person's risk of alcohol abuse or drug abuse.

How can I prevent panic attacks?

You can't always prevent attacks - but seeking medical advice, getting advice on therapy or medication, and learning self-help coping skills - can help reduce the severity of attacks.

1|2
Next Article:

WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on February 08, 2017

Mind, body & soul newsletter

Looking after your
health and wellbeing.
Sign Up Now!

Popular slideshows & tools on BootsWebMD

woman_holding_head_in_pain
How to help headache pain
rash on skin
Top eczema triggers to avoid
boost your metabolism
Foods to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol
period_questions_answered
Tips to support digestive health
woman looking at pregnancy test
Is your body ready for pregnancy?
sick child
Dos and don'ts for childhood eczema
girl_sneezing_into_tissue
Treating your child's cold or fever
bucket with cleaning supplies in it
Cleaning and organising tips
adult man contemplating
When illness makes it hard to eat
woman holding stomach
Understand this common condition
cold sore
What you need to know