Panic Attack Help: Stop The Fear

Symptoms experienced during an anxiety or panic attack are the results of one’s mind: a “flight or fight” response which produces numerous physiological changes within the body. These “flight or fight” symptoms are not a sign of illness but of the body trying to prepare for a perceived or anticipated threat.

Help for Panic Episodes

Having a panic attack may be one of the worst situations to find yourself in. Even though most panic attacks peak at 10 minutes and end within 20-30 minutes, that time may feel like the “hours” will never end. Mental health professionals experienced in the treatment of anxiety and panic attacks can help end the moments of excruciating fear.

Panic Attack Common Symptoms

While the symptoms experienced during an anxiety or panic attack make for a very long list, varying between each person in severity and occurrence, the following list details some of the most common ones reported.

  • Shortness of breath, feeling smothered –may be most distressing symptom experienced
  • Heart palpitations, racing or slowed heart beat – due to release of stress hormones
  • Chest pain
  • Globus Hystericus: Difficulty swallowing; “lump” or pressure in throat
  • Shaking (internal or external) or shivering
  • Dry mouth
  • GI upset (indigestion, heartburn, diarrhea)
  • Insomnia, sleep disturbances
  • Feeling “electric shock or jolt” is common and often radiates from the chest
  • Numbness to face or head, pain to neck and shoulders – muscle tightness restricts blood vessels and nerves which cause numbness, pain and unusual sensations to head/face
  • Increased sensitivity to sound, smell, light and touch
  • Headaches and “tight band” feeling around head
  • Agoraphobia (safety seeking behavior)
  • Fear of losing control is high on the list during a panic attack
  • Tingling in hands or feet a normal expected symptom
  • Derealization and depersonalization can occur with even low level anxiety
  • Aggression and fear closely related – a panic attack may lead to aggressive outbursts

While this is a fairly extensive list of panic attack and anxiety attack symptoms, the list grows with individual reported experiences and symptoms. With a history of chronic panic attacks the severity of symptoms may also progress to depression or thoughts of suicide. You do not have to face this alone – work with a psychiatrist to help end the fear and panic.

Panic Attack Psychiatrist

Experienced consultation and treatment is available locally. Stop your anxiety and panic attacks – Call the office for a confidential appointment at a time convenient for you.

10 Behaviors that Indicate a Mental Health Problem

People with quirky or eccentric personalities may be more interesting or fun to be around, but when their behaviors become too extreme or negatively impact their lives, there may be something else at play, including the possibility of a mental health disorder. In the U.S., about one in five adults, or almost 44 million people exhibit the occurrence of a mental illness every year.

Signs and Behaviors of Mental Health Issues

You may feel that you are unique and different, or even having a personality that is often misunderstood – when do those thoughts change over to questioning if you need to see a psychiatrist? There are certain behaviors and signs that do signal a need to see a mental health practitioner – if you recognize any of the following in yourself it does not mean you are disturbed or crazy, but rather that your life may be able to benefit from an aspect of mental health guidance and treatment.

  • Difficulty coping with life on a day to day basis, having irrational fears
  • Intense anxiety where every worry is “super-sized” and worst case scenario is expected
  • Feeling overcome with sadness, or feeling down or hopeless on a regular basis that affects your ability to function
  • Unexplained and recurrent headaches, stomach-aches or a rundown immune system
  • Using a substance to cope with daily life; use of alcohol, illegal or prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications or other illicit activities to numb emotional pain
  • Have impulsive or obvious mood swings
  • Cannot shake the impact of recent or past traumatic events
  • Thinking about suicide or hurting one self
  • Serious anger issues, significant irritability, hostility, rage and frequent outbursts of anger
  • Distorted body image along with a highly troubled relationship with food and eating

Help is a Phone Call Away

While the list above does not cover all the mental health issues or concerns a person may have, it does highlight some of the most common behaviors and signs that a comprehensive evaluation by a skilled psychiatrist may provide a diagnosis for. Mental health disorders are treatable. Call for an appointment.

Panic Attack or Cardiac Problem?

In the not so distant past it may have taken months to years of worry, fear and distress before finally being correctly diagnosed with a panic disorder. While mental health professionals today may make the proper diagnosis of panic more quickly, many people suffer through their panic attack not knowing they have a disorder that is easily treated.

Panic Attack Mimics Heart Disease

The ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America) reports that hundreds of thousands of emergency room and medical appointments are directly related to panic attack. The patient reports symptoms during their panic attack that mimic cardiac or heart disease. In fact the medical symptoms are so close to resembling a life threatening issue that an EKG is generally ordered for a correct diagnosis.

Panic Attack Mimics Many Medical Disorders

While panic attacks are most often compared to diagnoses of heart disease, heart attack, and severe angina, they also mimic other medical disorders as well. A panic attack can mimic breathing disorders, thyroid problems, and impede proper organ functioning which can affect the whole body and feelings of wellness. People who suffer from panic symptoms often do so in private, slowly distancing themselves from their support systems.

Symptoms of Panic Attack

A panic attack comes on abruptly and brings the feelings of intense fear developing within a few short minutes. For a diagnosis of panic attack includes at least four of the following symptoms:

  • Heart palpitations, pounding heart, fast heart rate, chest pain or heavy discomfort
  • Feeling short of breath, or of being smothered or choked
  • Body trembling or shaking
  • Numbness or tingling of body parts or extremities
  • Sweating with alternating feelings of being chilled or hot
  • Nausea or having abdominal or GI distress
  • Feeling of “losing control,” or “going crazy”
  • Fears of dying
  • Feeling faint or light-headed

Panic Attack among the Sexes

Research studies show that women are more likely to have a psychiatric disorder during their lifetime. In fact, from puberty to about age 50, a woman is two times more likely than a man to have an anxiety disorder. Brain chemistry, female hormones and sensitivity to specific hormones that regulate stress responses make women two times more vulnerable than a man. While women may be more susceptible to panic attacks or panic disorder, fewer women than men seek out help and often suffer in silence never knowing how close the “cure” to their disorder is. There is no need to suffer in silence or to endure the pain and fear of a panic disorder. Atlanta panic attack psychiatrist Dr. Darvin Hege has successfully diagnosed and treated panic attack and panic disorder for over two decades.

Panic Disorder Can Develop or Worsen During Menopause

On any given day there are approximately 45 million American women that are going through menopause, with 5% of that number between the ages of 45 to 50 years old.

Research data from the CDC indicate that while the majority of women transition to menopause without developing any troubling psychiatric problems, panic disorder is the most common mental health issue reported.

Menopausal Panic Attacks Can Last For Years

Menopause often brings difficult emotional and physiological changes during this change of life phase. Studies show new-onset panic disorder has become a common new diagnosis for women going through menopause. In addition, women with pre-existing panic disorder may find their symptoms and mood changes worsen. Menopause brings changing hormone levels where women often report alternating periods of extreme rage, mood swings and depression that can last for a few months to a period that covers many years.

Reason For Menopausal Panic Attacks

While it may be unclear as to the exact cause of a woman’s panic attack or disorder, it has been found that women are twice as likely to suffer from panic disorder as men, most notably during PMS, pregnancy and menopause. Hormones have been identified as the one common underlying cause in all of these cases. In addition, women entering menopause who are already living a stressful lifestyle or who are going through a particularly emotional life event are left even more susceptible to developing a panic disorder.

Panic Attack Symptoms During Menopause

Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder described as unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear which includes chest pain, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, dizziness, heavy sweating, or gastrointestinal distress. During menopause the development of a panic disorder is often extremely debilitating when fluctuating hormone levels play havoc with a woman’s psychological and physiological state of health. Initial panic episodes often lead a woman to seek emergency medical care thinking that she is having a heart attack.

Treatment for Menopausal Panic Attacks

There is hope and relief from the many symptoms of menopausal panic attacks. An experienced psychiatrist with a history of successful treatment for women who develop mental health issues during menopause, has a wide variety of treatment options to fit one’s individual needs.  Following a comprehensive evaluation, medication may be part of the answer during the time of menopause with its hormone fluctuations.

Medications prescribed may include Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan, Librium, Zoloft, Elavil, Tofranil, Lexapro, Sinequan and many others. Atlanta menopausal panic disorder psychiatrist Dr. Darvin Hege may prescribe medications and may also suggest cognitive behavioral therapy or other adjunct therapies if your anxiety and fears feel insurmountable to you.

Atlanta Menopausal Panic Attack Psychiatrist

If you are in the beginning, middle or end phases of menopause and are experiencing anxiety, panic attacks or mood swings, make the call to Dr. Darvin Hege, an Atlanta menopausal panic attack psychiatrist and get your life back in balance again.

Panic Attacks: Control the Fear with the Proper Treatment Regimen

Panic attacks are often viewed by society with a negative connotation attached to the diagnosis which leaves many to suffer without seeking medical help. The Mayo Clinic reports the medical community recognizes panic attacks as a medical condition that is successfully treated with proper medication or a specific combination of prescriptions.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine reports statistical data indicates 2-3% of the population have panic disorder. That’s almost 7 million adults who are affected by panic disorder. Unfortunately most people with panic disorder never seek treatment. For those properly evaluated by a psychiatrist who specializes in the treatment of panic and anxiety disorders, 90% find relief from their fear and severe physical reactions.

What is a Panic Attack?

A panic attack is a type of anxiety disorder where you have a sudden overwhelming fear that consumes the person without warning or any obvious reason, peaking in about 10 minutes. In addition, an attack also triggers severe physiological reactions which take the fear and anxiety to new levels of extreme. Recurrent panic attacks, and living in fear of another attack may indicate you have a panic disorder, which can be successfully treated by a specialized psychiatrist.

What Causes Panic Attacks and Anxiety Disorder?

While the cause of panic attacks is unknown, there is a connection between major life transitions and degree of stress involved. The National Institute of Mental Health report one episode may not indicate an underlying anxiety disorder; however living in fear of having a recurring episode has a negative impact on your home and social life as well as gainful employment. A full comprehensive evaluation by a psychiatrist is crucial to provide the proper diagnosis that can then be successfully treated.

What are the Symptoms of Panic Attack or Panic Disorder?

There are a variety of symptoms that accompany a panic attack. People generally present with at least four of the following symptoms during a panic attack:

  • Chest pain or heavy discomfort
  • Heart palpitations, unusual heart rhythm or “pounding” heart
  • Shortness of breath or feeling like you will suffocate
  • Overwhelming fear of impending doom
  • Numbness and tingling in your arms, legs or face
  • Uncontrollable shaking, shivering or trembling
  • Fear of dying
  • Profuse sweating, hot flashes, or chills
  • Nausea, upset stomach, inability to eat
  • Feeling dizzy, lightheaded or faint
  • Feeling detached from reality

In addition, panic disorder can occur with other masked disorders which are often missed during a medical or psychological evaluation. Panic disorder may be associated with OCD, depression, substance abuse and alcoholism.

Atlanta Panic Attack Psychiatrist

Dr. Darvin Hege, MD, PC, is a well respected Atlanta panic attack psychiatrist with over 25 years of experience. Dr. Hege’s evaluation and subsequent diagnosis or multiple diagnoses is vital in developing a successful treatment and medication regime for panic disorder where the goal is to help you function without fear in everyday life situations.

Help For Anxiety And Panic Attacks

To a certain degree, most people experience a mild bit of panic during every day life. For example, if you have to give a speech, you may be anxious about not embarrassing yourself or not forgetting the speech material. If you are starting a new job, you may be anxious about making a good impression and may worry about learning new procedures. If you are going out on a first date, you may worry about how you look or if you’ll like the person you are dating. But, many people routinely suffer from panic or anxiety that keeps them from living a “normal” life. If you are one of the more than 6 million Americans who frequently experience an overwhelming degree of anxiety, you may need help for your anxiety and panic attacks.

The first thing to do after experiencing a panic attack is to go through a medical evaluation so physical conditions can be ruled out as the cause of the panic attack. Thyroid disorders, anemia, pheochromocytoma, heart problems, fluctuating hormones caused by pregnancy or menopause, too much nicotine or caffeine, and certain medications can cause symptoms similar to panic attacks. The physical symptoms of a panic attack include a sense of impending doom combined with a pounding and rapid heart beat, sweating, shakiness or dizziness, a feeling of shortness of breath or hyperventilating, and sometimes either chills or flushing. The sense of panic during an attack is increased by the knowledge that these same symptoms can be signs of more serious conditions, such as a heart attack, which raises the person’s level of anxiety.Although scientists aren’t sure what causes true panic attacks, they suspect that they may be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. Also panic attacks can be an inherited condition. Many times there is no physical reason for an attack, but it is best to get medical help to rule out physical causes first when taking steps to get help for anxiety and panic attacks.

If you routinely experience several of these symptoms, you may be living with an anxiety disorder:

  • Do you feel like every day experiences make you anxious (driving, social interactions, etc)?
  • Does your anxiety interfere with your work, school, or family responsibilities?
  • Do you experience fears that you know are irrational, but can’t shake?
  • Do you believe that something bad will happen if certain things aren’t done a certain way?
  • Do you experience sudden, unexpected attacks of heart-pounding panic?
  • Do you feel like danger and catastrophe are around every corner?

So, how can you get help for anxiety and panic attacks? Sometimes you can get relief through natural methods and sometimes you need to seek help through counseling and medication. If the natural route is what you would like to try first, you should think about learning and practicing tai chi, yoga, or meditation to help you relax and reduce stress. Healthy eating habits and an exercise program can also help to reduce the stress of the day. Deep breathing exercises practiced during stressful times of the day (the commute, after a talk with the boss, etc) can help calm and center your mind.

If these techniques are not enough to provide  help for your panic attacks and anxiety, counseling and medication are an important next step. Find a therapist who has experience in dealing withpanic attacks and can provide help for your anxiety. Treatment such as cognitive behavior therapy can alleviate or eliminate panic attacks for many people. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you change the way you “see” things and helps you alter behaviors that contribute to panic attacks or keeps them going. It helps you see your fears more realistically. Exposure therapy can also help you with panic attacks and anxiety. This type of therapy mimics the sensations you feel when you have a panic attack. For example, you might hold your breath or be asked to hyperventilate with a counselor present and while in a safe environment. In this way, you can learn how to cope with the feelings you experience so that you have more control over the sensations and your reaction to them.

Anti-anxiety medications can also help for anxiety and panic attacks. Dr. Darvin Hege provides help for panic attacks in the Atlanta area. Dr. Hege most commonly prescribes Xanax XR, Klonopin, Zoloft, Prozac, Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil, Effexor, or Cymbalta. For more information from Dr. Hege about panic attacks and the most effective medications for anxiety and panic attacks, go to the Panic Attacks Information page on his website.

Dr. Hege has 25 years of experience dealing with patients who need help for anxiety and panic attacks. Call him today at 770-458-0007 for an evaluation for relief of your panic, and for help deciding the most effective and safest treatment for your anxiety attacks.

Panic Attacks And Depression

Panic attacks can be devastating for those suffering from the condition. Attacks come at random and can occur frequently or can have long periods of time between episodes. The fact that attacks can't be anticipated causes more anxiety. Ultimately, two thirds of the people who have a panic attack will be diagnosed with a panic disorder within a year following their first attack, and half of those who go through a panic attack will develop clinical depression within a year. It seems that panic attacks and depression often go hand in hand.

The first thing to do after experiencing a panic attack is to go through a medical evaluation so physical conditions can be ruled out as the cause of the panic attack. Overactive thyroid, heart problems, too much nicotine or caffeine, certain medications, and abuse of alcohol or illegal drug use can cause symptoms similar to panic attacks. Scientists aren't sure what causes true panic attacks. They may be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. Sometimes panic attacks are an inherited condition. Many times there is no physical reason for an attack, but it is best to get medical help to rule out physical causes.

Repeated anxiety attacks can cause depression and panic attacks can turn into a panic disorder. The anxiety of wondering if another panic attack is on the way causes severe stress and sometimes thoughts of suicide in people who suffer from them. Since panic attacks are frighteningly similar to symptoms of serious medical conditions such as heart attacks, people naturally become more anxious that their attacks may be life-threatening. The lack of control that sufferers go through is often depressing as is the fact that they can't anticipate an attack. If a person has lived with panic attacks for a while, the anxiety they feel can give them low self-esteem or may lower their self-image which also can result in depression. Panic attacks and depression combined can make people feel like they are in a downward spiral that can never be escaped.

When panic attacks and depression occur together, it is best to get help from a qualified psychiatrist. Early intervention can help the person before the condition affects their lives too much since often people will avoid the places or situations they feel bring on their panic attacks, leading to a decreased quality of life. Depression is a serious condition and needs to be treated separately from the the panic attacks. But, anti-depression medication, certain types of psychotherapy, or a mixture of the two can effectively treat the individual who suffers from panic attacks and depression. Dr. Darvin Hege, an Atlanta-based psychiatrist, says "addressing the core panic disorder or other condition with the vast selection of tools with which psychiatrists are familiar will likely result in relief and success."

Dr. Darvin Hege has 25 years of experience dealing with patients who have panic attacks and depression simultaneously. He offers evening and weekend office hours at his Atlanta, GA practice. Call today at 770 458-0007 for an evaluation for relief of your panic attacks and depression and for help deciding the most effective and safest treatment. 

Panic Attacks At Night

Panic attacks are common for many people. It doesn’t matter where you are or what you are doing – a panic attack can come on randomly and disrupt your day (or night). Over 6 million Americans suffer from panic attacks and between 44 percent and 71 percent of those people have also experienced panic attacks at night.

While it would seem that people should have more anxiety during the day, due to stresses of work and home, panic attacks at night are more common than you would think. Panic attacks at night are characterized by waking abruptly from sleep in a state of anxiety, and for no obvious reason. Episodes of panic attacks at night are generally over within ten minutes or so, but those few minutes can set the tone for sleeplessness the rest of the night. The physical symptoms of a panic attack include a sense of impending doom combined with a pounding and rapid heart beat, sweating, shakiness or dizziness, a feeling of shortness of breath or hyperventilating, and sometimes either chills or flushing. It can be hard to go back to sleep after the body is revved up from the attack. Also, the sense of panic during an attack is increased by the knowledge that these same symptoms can be signs of more serious conditions, such as a heart attack, which raises the person’s level of anxiety.

Part of the distress of panic attacks at night is the sense of loss of control. Patients suffering from an attack may also feel the night brings with it a sense of being defenseless while unconscious (sleeping) and the thought that something might happen while they are most vulnerable. Panic attacks at night can be precipitated by events that happened during the day. Things that happened during the day may be revisited at bedtime, causing anxiety before sleeping. Events at home may leave an emotional imprint on the mind, causing the patient to be more anxious than usual. Even eating late at night just before going to bed can keep the sufferer awake and make them more prone to panic attacks at night.

There are some things people can do to help them deal with panic attacks at night:

  1. Learn and practice calming techniques like yoga, tai chi, and meditation.
  2. Learn and practice slow, deep breathing exercises.
  3. Reduce stress at night by taking time to relax and forget the worries of the day before retiring to bed at night.
  4. Develop healthy eating habits and exercise programs to help reduce stress.

If these techniques are not enough to help you deal with panic attacks at night, counseling and medication are an important next step. Find a therapist who has experience in dealing with panic attacks at night. Treatment such as cognitive behavior therapy and anti-anxiety medications can alleviate or eliminate panic attacks for most people. Dr. Darvin Hege provides help for panic attacks in the Atlanta area. Dr. Hege most commonly prescribes Xanax XR, Klonopin, Zoloft, Prozac, Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil, Effexor, or Cymbalta for panic attacks at night. For more information from Dr. Hege about panic attacks and the most effective medications for stopping panic attacks at night, go to thePanic Attacks Information page on his website.

Although having panic attacks at night can be a frightening experience, they aren’t something you just have to live with. Medications, therapy, and stress reduction can help sufferers face the night without fear.

Dr. Hege has 25 years of experience dealing with patients who have panic attacks at night. Call him today at 770-458-0007 for an evaluation for relief of your panic during the night, and for help deciding the most effective and safest treatment.

Panic Attacks And Menopause

First of all, let's agree that menopause is no walk in the park for many women. Their hormones are constantly fluctuating back and forth, they have hot flashes and mood swings, and they either can't sleep or they wake up with night sweats. Add in anxiety and panic attacks and many women will feel like they are going right over the edge. Panic attacks and menopause just don't mix well.

Simple anxiety is something everyone experiences on occasion. We all stress over projects at work or issues at home. But, panic attacks are anxiety attacks on steroids. A panic attack can make the sufferer feel like they are having a heart attack! The most common symptoms people have with panic attacks are racing heart beats or heart palpitations, chest pain or discomfort, a feeling of shortness of breath or choking, sweating, dizziness or feeling lightheaded or faint, and unnatural fear and anxiety. To get an idea of what a panic attack is like, think about how you feel when you are cut off by another car and narrowly miss hitting someone or something. Now, multiply that feeling tenfold!

Women who are experiencing a panic attack are likely to breathe shallowly and rapidly. Their racing heartbeat makes them more upset, and the terror and fear that something horrible is happening to them only increases their panic. Panic attacks are not triggered by something in the environment around the sufferer or by something they did; rather the attacks begin for no apparent reason and are as likely to affect someone who is sitting calmly while reading a book as they are to affect a woman in a stressful situation.

While people can be prone to panic attacks at any stage of life, women are more likely than men to suffer from them, and panic attacks and menopause seem to go hand in hand. Many women today are stressed out and overworked, and put themselves at the back of the line behind family and work needs. When women enter perimenopause and menopause, their bodies begin to have hormone imbalances. It is believed that these hormone imbalances, coupled with stress, are at least partially to blame for an increased susceptibility to panic attacks.

Many women will go through perimenopause and menopause, and panic attacks will only happen once or twice during the entire process. For other women, menopause and panic attacks will become a way of life until menopause is completed. For these women, medication may hold the answer to getting them through this troubling time of life.

Dr. Darvin Hege, an Atlanta, GA psychiatrist says "there are two classes of anti-panic medicines that are highly effective. They are Benzodiazepines (Group 1) which consist of Xanax (alprazolam), Klonopin (clonazepam), Ativan (lorazepam), Tranxene, Serax Valium, Librium, and others, and Antidepressant/Anti-panic medicines (Group 2) consisting of SSRI's (Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil, Celexa, Lexapro, and Luvox) and tricyclics (Tofranil, nortriptyline, protriptyline, Elavil, Sinequan, Surmontil, and others)." Dr. Hege further notes that "the most important difference between Group 1 and Group 2 is that medicines in Group 1 work much quicker, i.e. stop panic attacks in twenty minutes to a couple of weeks in worse cases. Group 2 requires 1-8 weeks to be effective. However, Group 1 can be physically addictive. Group 2 medicines are just as likely to stop all panic attacks as Group 1 after a lag period. The lag period is 1-3 weeks to the onset of reducing the severity and frequency of attacks. It takes Group 2, 3-10 weeks to totally stop all panic attacks in 70% of patients. Most people need to be on medicine for at least 1 year to significantly reduce the risk of relapse back into panic attacks soon after stopping the medicines."

Menopause and panic attacks are not something that women just have to "put up with". For those women who suffer relatively few attacks, natural therapies or stress reduction can help. Yoga, meditation, and exercise can help calm otherwise frantic lifestyles. Just the simple fact of knowing what a panic attack feels like can help women respond less negatively if they have one. For those women who can not deal with the anxiety and fear that a combination of menopause and panic attacks can bring on, there is relief in the form of counseling and medication.

Dr. Darvin Hege has 25 years of experience dealing with patients who have panic attacks and menopause simultaneously. He offers evening and weekend office hours at his Atlanta, GA practice. Call today at 770 458-0007 for an evaluation for relief of your panic attacks and for help deciding the most effective and safest treatment. >

Panic Attacks And Pregnancy

Panic attacks and pregnancy simultaneously create risks for the fetus. Stress and anxiety in the mother increase adrenaline and cortisol that can reduce oxygen to the fetus and contribute to risks during labor and delivery. The peak age of onset is in the 20s and more women than men get panic attacks. Therefore, the incidence of panic attacks and pregnancy together is elevated. The prevalence of panic attacks and pregnancy is about 1 to 2%.

In a retrospective study of first onset of panic attacks in childbearing age women, 10 times as many women reported their first panic attack occurred in the first trimester of a pregnancy. Other retrospective studies suggested that breast-feeding reduced the risk of panic disorder during the postnatal period and weaning increased the risk. If a woman has had panic attacks before pregnancy, studies have suggested that they may have worsening of the panic attacks during pregnancy and/or the postnatal period if the panic disorder was severe.

Medical causes of panic attacks need to be ruled out. These include thyroid disorders, anemia, preeclampsia, and pheochromocytoma. Comorbid psychiatric conditions frequently underlie panic disorder. These include mild bipolar disorder, depression, ADHD, other anxiety disorders such as PTSD, generalized anxiety disorder, or alcohol or drug abuse or withdrawal.

Panic attacks and pregnancy present challenges for treatment. Self-care strategies include elimination of caffeine, reduction of sleep deprivation, and relaxation techniques. Non-medication therapy with cognitive behavioral therapy with a professional therapist may be effective.

Medication treatment for panic attacks and pregnancy are often very helpful, but risk and benefit analysis include the following: as mentioned in the beginning there are medical, physical development, labor and delivery, postpartum, and later physical and mental developmental risks for the baby when the mother is having uncontrolled panic attacks during pregnancy, postpartum, and early childhood stages.
Now I will address some of the concerns of taking medication during panic attacks and pregnancy. Medications that help panic attacks the quickest are benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines include Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan, Valium, Librium, Tranxene, and Serax. There was at least one study suggesting an increased risk of cleft palate if Valium is used during pregnancy. That suggestion was about a 1% risk. SSRIs retrospective studies have not suggested any congenital malformations except possibly in Paxil. Hence, the other SSRIs are first choice. These include Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa, and Lexapro. The drawback of the SSRIs are that they require one to two weeks of administration before getting any benefit and one to two months before getting full benefit against panic attacks. Withdrawal or discontinuation symptoms of any of these medicines in the baby after delivery are additional concerns.

Dr. Hege has 25 years of experience dealing with patients who have panic attacks and pregnancy simultaneously. Call today at 770 458-0007 for an evaluation for relief of your panic during the planning or managing of a pregnancy or postpartum, and for help deciding the most effective and safest treatment.