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Freedom From Panic Disorder Medication; Three Steps to Preventing Rebound Panic

by Dr. Blumberg on August 15, 2010

Drug-Free Treatment for Panic Disorder is Not Readily Available
“If I had known, I would have never started on medication!”

I meet more and more panic sufferers who are unaware that, in 1991, the National Institute of Health (NIH) endorsed a powerful, drug-free, scientific method to live panic-free. CBT for Panic Disorder, provided by trained expert doctors, is still not readily available. When I meet patients for the first time, they often tell me they are relying on minor tranquilizers or antidepressants to stop anxiety attacks. Many panic attack victims have no idea there is an effective drug-free alternative for panic relief.

Panic Disorder Medication Tapering
For example, in my initial meeting with Sally*, a 31-year old married executive assistant, she told me she had been taking anti-anxiety medication for three years. Sally desperately wanted to discontinue her medication and try to become pregnant, but she was terrified of a new burst of panic attacks once she was drug-free.

Sally depended on her medication to stop panic attacks. Her fear of an intensification of heart pounding, numbness, shortness of breath and rubbery legs made her reluctant to even consider decreasing her reliance on anti-anxiety medication.

Are You Ready to Feel the Panic Symptoms Without Fear?
Here is what I told Sally:  “Don’t even consider tapering off medication unless you are ready to feel the panic symptoms without fear.” “How do you do that?” she asked.  I told Sally, “First you must see the two parts of panic and see the sensation of rubbery legs as not related to the false thought of collapsing.  Then, under your doctor’s supervision, you can initiate the first very low dose drug reduction.”

The Beginner’s Mistake: “I Hope I Can Stop Anti-Anxiety Medications and Stay Panic-free.”
You must not make the beginner’s mistake! Do not hope you can taper off medication and never feel the panic symptoms again. You will set yourself up for a huge setback. When you decrease your dependence on minor tranquilizer to stop panic, rebound panic is almost 100%. So when you taper off your medication, depend on the return of panic attack symptoms!

Prepare in Advance to Feel the Panic Sensations You Dread the Most
Before you initiate the very first dose reduction, you must prepare in advance and expect to feel the sensations you dread the most. Rehearse in advance the CBT procedures that will guide you to neutralize the symptoms of panic attacks.

If you pull back in fear when you feel weakness and rubbery legs, you release more adrenaline. Then, you feed the panic feelings with fear. CBT utilizes training methods to teach you how to desensitize yourself to panic symptoms. Once you feel the panic sensations without fear, the symptoms shrink away like fleeting flashes of adrenaline.

Look at Medication Tapering as a Training Program in Panic Symptom Neutralization
So before you start a tapering program, you must initiate a CBT program to overcome your fear of the panic attack symptoms of rubbery legs, heart pounding, jelly legs, numbness and tingling or whatever other sensations you might encounter.

Three Steps to Successful Medication Tapering

Step One: You must be Symptom Ready. Be ready to feel the panic sensations without fear.

Step Two: Next, you must be Symptom Tough.  Don’t blink when symptoms come for a visit.

Step Three: Finally, you must be Symptom Friendly.  Neutralize and normalize your symptoms.

*References to real persons, places and events are made in a fictional context, and are not intended in any way to be libelous, defamatory or in any way factual.

This educational information should always be used in consultation with your doctor to confirm a diagnosis and review available treatments for panic disorder.

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