Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the drug of choice for treatment of patients with panic disorder. Most patients have a favorable response to SSRI therapy; however, 30 percent will not be able to tolerate these drugs or will have an unfavorable or incomplete response. Strategies to improve management of such patients include optimizing SSRI dosing (starting at a low dose and slowly increasing the dose to reach the target dose) and ensuring an adequate trial before switching to a different drug. Benzodiazepines should be avoided but, when necessary, may be used for a short duration or may be used long-term in patients for whom other treatments have failed. Slower-onset, longer-acting benzodiazepines are preferred. All patients should be encouraged to try cognitive behavior therapy. Augmentation therapy should be considered in patients who do not have a complete response. Drugs to consider for use in augmentation therapy include benzodiazepines, buspirone, beta blockers, tricyclic antidepressants, and valproate sodium. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a type of talking therapy that's increasingly being used in the treatment of depression. Most experts recommend that people with moderate to severe depression are treated with a combination of CBT and antidepressants. However, if you're unable or unwilling to take antidepressants, you have the option of receiving CBT on its own. CBT helps you understand your thoughts and behaviour, and how they affect you. It helps you recognise that events in your past may have shaped you, but it concentrates mostly on how you can change the way you think, feel and behave in the present. It also teaches you how to overcome negative thoughts. CBT is usually available on the NHS, although the waiting lists are usually long.
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