Antidepressants are usually used for treating generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), major depressive disorder (MDD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). However, a research published in the journal Depression and Anxiety in May 2018 demonstrated that therapeutic benefits of antidepressants may depend on the severity of symptoms. Therefore, the efficacy of antidepressants is minimal in patients of panic disorder (PD) and mild GAD, the study said.
The researchers studied the therapeutic effects of antidepressants on mild to moderate and severe depression. They examined the relationship between the efficacy of the medicines and the influence of the severity of various anxiety disorders.
The study participants included 3,430 patients of GAD, 2,151 participants for PD, 1,195 subjects for social anxiety disorder (SAD), 1,071 patients of PTSD, and 1,132 participants for OCD. The Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale was used to gauge the severity of severe GAD symptoms. The scale showed a difference of 4.0 points between treatment with a placebo and that with an antidepressant. But for patients of mild GAD, the difference between treatment with antidepressants and placebo was 1.4 points.
Further, when patients of PD undergoing 40 panic attacks fortnightly at baseline were treated with antidepressants, they experienced 4.7 fewer panic attacks in two weeks. On the other hand, the subjects undergoing 10 panic attacks fortnightly at baseline experienced a decline of 0.4 panic attacks in two weeks when treated with antidepressants.
The study established that antidepressants were effective across the severity range in clinical trials for OCD, SAD and PTSD. Additionally, for GAD and PD, the therapeutic effects of antidepressants over and above the placebo were minor at low severity. The authors of the study suggested that in order to set the right expectations, medical practitioners must discuss the therapeutic effects of antidepressants with patients having mild to moderate symptoms.
Mild anxiety and panic disorder are manageable
Mild anxiety can be managed with simple changes in lifestyle. A person with mild anxiety must exercise on a regular basis, as it releases endorphins that can reduce stress. Sound sleep and healthy diet reduce mental and physical stress and make managing stress easy. Basic relaxation techniques like visualization, deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation also help ease mild anxiety.
Panic disorders can also be managed with various alternative therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure therapy. CBT helps in altering behavioral or thinking patterns that trigger a panic attack. Exposure therapy includes different exercises like holding one’s breath, hyperventilation and shaking the head. These exercises can make a person less afraid of internal body sensations and control panic in stressful situations.
Seek treatment for panic disorders
Though managing mild anxiety and panic disorders is possible, it is always advisable to seek professional help for complete and continued recovery. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), 6 million adults (2.7 percent American population), aged 18 years or older, suffer from a panic disorder. Women are twice more likely than men to suffer from various forms of mental illnesses.
Sovereign Health, one of the leading mental health treatment centers for panic disorders, offers mental health treatment services at multiple facilities spread across the United States. Backed by trained staff ready to offer the requisite help 24/7, our patients are able to recover from their illness, making their lives better. For more information on panic disorders treatment, call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-973-7164 or chat online with our admission counselor.