If you suffer from severe anxiety or panic attacks, the likelihood is that your doctor reaches for the prescription pad and prescribes a psychotropic drug (psychotropic drug = a drug capable of altering one’s mind, emotions, and behaviours). Only in very few instances will you be referred for psychotherapeutic treatment. Drug treatment seems to be the treatment of choice.
What happened to those research findings that clearly indicate that drug treatment is everything but the best treatment? Indeed, drug treatment is less effective in the short term and worsens matters in the long term. (Hofmann, S.G. (1999). Panic Control and its applications. Journal of Psychotherapeutic Practice and Research, 8(1), 3-11.) Not only that, there are voices becoming louder and louder that emphasise that the (side) effect of drugs are extremely harmful. “…the latest evidence-based research shows that psychiatric drugs achieve their primary or essential effect by causing brain dysfunction, and they tend to do far more harm than good. Read more what Dr. Breggin found!
In contrast, talking therapy, especially ‘Panic Control Treatment’ (PCT) demonstrated higher effectiveness, lower drop out of patients, and is not as expensive as drug treatment. PCT is a treatment based on cognitive behavioural concepts.
The problem, however, is not just the affinity doctors and other medically oriented health professionals have with drug treatment. Clients and/or patients often demand pills to ease their pains.
This could be related to another research conducted recently that found that people with serious anxiety disorders think they have strong physiological symptoms such as heart palpitations, sweating, irregular breathing, shaking of hands, or muscle tension. However, when they have undergone physiological tests they only showed mild symptoms. Thus there is an exaggerated attribution of symptoms which in itself may lead to an increase in physiological symptoms. Read more about this research here!
Given the problems potentially caused by drug treatment, it might pay to find a therapist with whom you can explore the benefits of talking therapy for the treatment of your anxiety.