Panic attacks are very sudden periods of intense anxiety, which often develop for no apparent reason and can trigger a severe physical reaction. The circumstances that provoke these episodes are usually abrupt, and often have no obvious trigger. When panic attacks strike, the sufferer might think that he or she is losing control, having a heart attack or may even believe that they are dying.

Not so long ago, panic attacks were often dismissed as nothing more than nerves or stress, but they are now recognized as an all-too-real medical condition. Even though panic attacks can significantly affect the individual's quality of life, treatment, which includes medications, psychotherapy, group therapy and relaxation techniques has proven to be very effective.

These treatments are extremely effective, and most patients who have successfully completed treatment may continue to experience occasional situational avoidance or anxiety, and further treatment may be deemed necessary in those cases. But most often, once treated, panic disorder does not lead to any permanent complications.

Today, most specialists are in agreement that a combination of medication, along with cognitive and behavioral therapies are the best course of treatment for panic disorder.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is usually regarded as the most effective form of treatment for panic attacks and panic disorders. This therapy focuses on the thinking patterns and behaviors that are provoking, or triggering the panic attacks. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a type of treatment that is based on the theory that by changing habitual thoughts and behaviors, you can control and lessen the symptoms of your condition.

In extreme cases, medication may be prescibed to control or reduce many of the symptoms of panic attacks. Medications work most effectively when combined with other treatments, such as therapy and lifestyle changes that can get to the root of the underlying causes of the patient's panic disorder.

Medications prescibed for panic attacks may include:

Antidepressants are often used in the treatment of panic attacks. However, it may take up to several days or weeks before the medication begins to take effect, in which case the patient may need to take them preventatively and only during a panic attack.

Benzodiazepines are fast acting anti-anxiety drugs that provide rapid relief of anxiety symptoms. However, because of their addictive nature they are often recommended to be used with caution.

Often, for many people, simply knowing more about their panic attacks and condition can help them learn to begin to manage their symptoms even the intervention of drugs or extended counseling sessions.