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Can Anxiety Disorder and Panic Attacks Be Cured?

by Mike on July 10, 2008 · 129 comments

Due to the many, many comments on this post, I have written a follow-up, Can Anxiety Disorder and Panic Attacks Be Cured? Yes! No!. Please read it!

 

Snake Oil

Just type “anxiety cure” into Google – you will come up with 343,000 hits. Typing in “panic attack cure” gets you 782,000 hits. The top of Google’s search results and the sidebar will be filled with advertisements for “cures” for Anxiety Disorder and panic attacks.

These “cures” claim to make Anxiety Disorder and panic attacks go away for good in much in the same way they might offer to cure hookworm. A cure by definition is an elimination of a disease and its symptoms. These companys’ advertisements imply that the sufferer is never going to have symptoms again, that once they have gone through their regimen, Anxiety Disorder and panic attacks will be gone permanently.

Anxiety and panic attack sufferers are desperate people, and I fear that too many of them are taken in by such dangerous claims.

These highly-advertised “cures” reek of snake oil to me.

Please do not think I’m being negative, or trying to dash your hopes for some sort of relief from Anxiety Disorder and panic attacks. 

I am just being realistic. I firmly believe that a permanent “cure” for Anxiety Disorder and panic attacks is impossible. I am not saying that their symptoms cannot be controlled and managed successfully. I am not saying that you cannot reclaim your life and function normally. I am saying that the physical conditions that cause Anxiety Disorder and panic attacks will always be with you. 

And I am saying that a constant awareness of this fact will help you lead a happier, more successful life.

I read more and more each day of scientific research showing that, like depression or diabetes, there are definite physical anomalies in the body and brain associated with Anxiety Disorder and panic attacks. And physical anomalies do not go away. They cannot be “cured.” 

For example, just a few days ago I posted a report of a study that found evidence showing that sufferers of Social Anxiety Disorder have an abnormality in the brain’s dopaminergic system that can cause the condition. And every one of the informational references for Anxiety Disorders listed in the left column of this this blog cites numerous physical causes of each Anxiety Disorder and for panic attacks. 

If the brain of an Anxiety Disorder or panic sufferer has physical abnormalities that contribute to her mental illness, then her Anxiety or panic attacks can never be “cured,” plain and simple. She can learn coping strategies to manage the symptoms. She can control the symptoms to the extent that they have minimal impact on her life. But that physical abnormality will never simply go away.

I object strenuously to, and regard as cynical hype, claims that Anxiety Disorder and panic attacks can be cured. It not only is wrong, wrong, wrong, but it raises false hopes in the Anxiety or panic attack sufferer. It implies an inoculation, something like a smallpox vaccination. 

It replaces the very real hope of Anxiety Disorder and panic attack control and management with an unrealistic expectation that it can be banished permanently.

Even if the “cure” works for a while, what happens when, later on, one suffers a serious setback? Does that mean that one is “un-cured?” Unfortunately, most would see such an un-curing as a personal failure, just another instance of weakness of character. In my opinion, this would make the situation worse than it was in the first place! 

And are these “permanent cures” permanent enough to give the sufferer the tools to build their lives again? I rather doubt it.

How many of us have had our hopes crushed by a relapse after what we hoped and prayed was a just such a permanent cure? Did the help you received give you the emotional and practical tools to rebuild your life again? I’m afraid most of these loudly trumpeted quick fix-it’s being advertised will do nothing of the sort. 

It may be true that these “cures” may seem to give you relief for a while, as likely from a placebo effect as any real, lasting help. 

However, any reputable practitioner, whether a layperson or a licensed mental health care professional, will never say that they are “curing” you of Anxiety Disorder or panic attacks. They will tell you they are giving you the coping tools to manage and control your symptoms on a long-term basis.

I believe a far, far better and more realistic attitude is to regard Anxiety Disorder and panic attacks as a permanent, physical state that can be managed effectively with a combination of a healthy lifestyle, professional counselling and medication.

It can be controlled, and controlled to the point that the former sufferer has few if any of their formerly disabling symptoms. You can regain your functionality and live a successful, normal life.

Do not be duped by these snake-oil salesmen! You know that reputable mental health care professionals can give you reliable, long term relief from your symptoms. Do not waste your money, your hopes, your emotional well-being, or your mental health on anything less!

Have you tried any of these “cures?” Have they been successful? For how long? What do you think?

What can you do now?

Your comments are always welcome, and are important to this blog’s community! Leave a comment now.

You can find several related articles in the “Related Posts” list below. Click on the Categories tab at the top of the page for a complete list of all articles. And don’t forget the Google Custom Search field in the right sidebar, too!

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