Medications For Panic Attacks: What You Need To Know



Ever wonder why you are taking many medications for your panic attacks? This article will introduce you the different medications that your doctor is prescribing you. This material is for educational purposes only and will not try to replace the medicines that you are taking. If you have questions, please consult your doctor.

General Considerations

“Anxiety is an excessive persistent worrying over an imminent event that can last a while. A panic attack is a burst of intense fear that typically lasts fewer than 30 minutes,” says Dr. Carolyn Rodriguez, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford. With that, the medicines prescribed for panic disorders aims to control the symptoms of panic attacks, reduce their number, severity, reduce the anxiety, and fear linked with having another attack. These medicines take some time to reach its maximum effect, minimum of 2 weeks and a maximum of 6 to 8 weeks. This is why some patients would stop taking their pills because of impatience and thinking that it’s not working for them. It is best to consult your doctor if you are not sensing improvements.

The duration of medication administration will take over a year and will be tapered, or decreased gradually before totally stopping it. This is to prevent any complications or occurrence of relapse from happening. If you are pregnant, don’t take these drug on your own as it can increase the risks of birth defects. Ask your doctor on what medications to take to control your panic attacks and not harm your baby as well.


Remember the following points if you are taking benzodiazepines. Examples of these medications are Ativan, Valium, and Xanax.

  • These drugs can cause excessive drowsiness and increase the risk for injury. It is best not to handle or operate heavy types of machinery and avoid driving when you are taking these drugs. Request assistance when getting out of bed and walking.
  • Avoid taking over-the-counter sleep-inducing anti-histamines, caffeine (in beverages like cola and other soft drinks) as well as nicotine from tobacco products and nicotine patches. These products reduce the drug’s effectiveness.



Dr James Warner said: “This rigorous study confirms that antidepressants have an important place in the treatment of depression. Depression causes misery to countless thousands every year and this study adds to the existing evidence that effective treatments are available.” There are many types or classes of antidepressants. Make sure what class of antidepressants your current drug belongs. For panic attacks, the most common antidepressants are Zoloft, Paxil, and Prozac. They belong to SSRIs or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, the newest class of antidepressants.

  • If you have existing medical conditions like liver and kidney disorders, these drugs are contraindicated for you. Your doctor will look for alternative drugs instead.
  • These drugs can cause potentially serious damage to the baby if you are pregnant, planning to get pregnant, or lactating.

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors

These drugs are now sparingly used because of their strict and specific dietary regimen to prevent toxicity, but there are some patients who respond only to MAOIs and so these remain to be available.

  • You will follow a diet regimen while on this medication. Avoid foods with high tyramine content as it can cause a severe hypertensive crisis. Examples of foods that are high in tyramine include strong aged cheeses like cheddar or blue cheese, cured or smoked meats or fish, sausage or salami, beers, overripe fruits, soy products, and beans. For a complete list, consult your doctor and you will be referred to a nutritionist who can help you select and prepare your meal plan.


Aside from medications, there are other treatments that are proven effective in managing panic attacks. Stress reduction techniques, meditation, acupuncture, aromatherapy are just examples of conservative treatment modalities that you can try. Online therapy is also a novel avenue for discussing panic disorders. Patients go online and sometimes get involved with stranger chats in different chat rooms specific to a disorder and they share their experiences, treatments, or anything that concerns their lives.

According to Dina Cagliostro, PhD, “If you’ve been experiencing panic attacks or think you may have panic disorder, we encourage you to seek diagnosis and treatment from your doctor and a mental health professional.”

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