The two most common anxiety disorders treatment options are medication (anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs primarily) and psychotherapeutic approaches (cognitive-behavioral therapy, e.g.).
Research and practice have allowed mental health professionals to develop specific recommendations for which of this approaches-or which combination-is most appropriate for each of the six types of anxiety disorder.
The American Psychological Association now recommends Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy as the preferred initial treatment approach for people suffering from panic attacks or panic disorder.
The treatment of panic attacks with a cognitive restructuring has three stages: reducing the fear of the attack itself; reducing fear of the physical symptoms that occur during an attack, and reducing fear of the situations or things that the patient associates with the panic attacks and therefore avoids.
The process begins with reconstruction and analysis of the patient's history of manic episodes and introduces counter-information to contextualize their fears.
Controlled behavioral experiments may then be used, during which patients are encouraged to let themselves experience the full impact of a panic attack while applying cognitive observational techniques they have learned.
Interoceptive exposure and desensitization exercises are also used in controlled circumstances to help panic sufferers practice dealing with their specific physical symptoms such as dizziness, palpitations, or hyperventilation. Exposure and desensitization can also help people lose their over-reactiveness to objects, activities, or situations they fear and avoid.