What Are My Panic Disorder Treatment Options If I’m Addicted to Klonopin?

Recurring panic attacks, which are the main characteristics of panic disorder, can be debilitating and make ordinary functioning at work, home, or school very difficult. If you have also struggled with substance use disorders, especially involving benzodiazepines, you may not be able to use Klonopin, which is commonly prescribed to manage panic attacks. There is hope, though, as other medications and therapy offer effective alternatives.

Panic disorder is a mental illness that affects between two and six percent of adults in the U.S. It is not an uncommon type of anxiety disorder, and yet when you feel a panic attack coming on or experience one it can feel as if you are alone. Living with this condition means that an attack could be just around the corner, and this can be frightening and even debilitating.

Klonopin, a benzodiazepine, anti-anxiety medication, is commonly prescribed to reduce the frequency and severity of panic attacks. But, if you have struggled with misuse of Klonopin or similar drugs, or with any kind of substance use, it may not be a viable treatment option. Fortunately, there are other solutions.

Managing Panic Disorder with Other Medications

Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder, and while Klonopin and other anti-anxiety medications can be useful in reducing symptoms, they are only used for short-term relief. A longer-term medical solution to managing anxiety and panic attacks is to use antidepressant medications.

The antidepressants typically used for patients with panic disorder are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Drugs in the SSRI and SNRI classes include Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, and Effexor.

Antidepressants require about six weeks to begin taking effect, which means you need to be patient and keep taking the drug prescribed to determine if it will work. There are plenty of options, so if one medication is not effective or causes too many side effects, there are others to try. It is important that you report any side effects to your doctor to help make the right choice about medications.

Therapy to Help Reduce Panic Attacks

While medications are often important and useful in treating mental illnesses, for panic disorder therapy is actually the preferred first line of attack. So, if you are not eligible to take Klonopin, you still have the ability to effectively manage your symptoms and reduce the occurrence of panic attacks if you find a good therapist or therapy team to work with.

The most commonly used type of therapy to help patients with panic disorder is called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Regular, ongoing sessions with good therapists can help you manage symptoms and reduce the frequency and severity of attacks.

CBT will help you face the fears associated with panic attacks in a safe environment. Your therapist will help you learn to recognize early signs of an attack and triggers so that you can take active steps to prevent or minimize an oncoming panic attack. A therapist will also help you become more aware of your negative thoughts and behaviors and make positive changes, including using effective relaxation techniques, so you can enjoy a better quality of life with less anxiety and fear.

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Lifestyle Changes

Your therapist can also give you some guidance on things you can do at home and on your own to supplement treatment and help manage panic attacks. Positive lifestyle changes like getting enough sleep, eating well, and getting regular exercise can make you healthier and put you in a better position to gain more control over your condition.

Also important is avoiding drugs and alcohol, which can lead to a substance use disorder and add more stress and anxiety to your life. Take steps to develop and rely on a strong social support network. Spend time with family or friends, and call on those you trust to spend time with you when you are feeling anxious or fearful.

Finally, learning and using relaxation techniques is so important to managing panic disorder without drugs like Klonopin. These drugs can reduce symptoms quickly, but you can also learn to manage anxiety without them. Talk to your therapist about learning breathing strategies and stress management techniques. Try meditation and other mindfulness practices, like yoga.

Benzodiazepines help some people with panic attacks, but these drugs are not necessary. With good support, professional therapy, and important steps you take on your own at home, you can manage panic disorder without Klonopin.