Let me explain:
A previous post, Can Anxiety Disorder and Panic Attacks Be Cured?, has been the most commented-on opinion article on AP&H since it was written. Its main points are:
- The symptoms of Anxiety and Panic Attacks can be relieved, but the propensity to have them is a permanent part of a person’s psychological makeup.
- You cannot count on any symptom relief being permanent.
- Beware of internet sites offering a permanent cure.
For my pains, I have been rewarded with accusations of deliberately writing a depressing article, being an evil person, having no qualifications or research proof for making my assertions, or simply have been called a disagreeable name.
Almost every commenter missed my point, and I hold myself accountable for this. So this post is meant to correct the misapprehension.
What the dictionary says
Cure: Relief vs Eliminate
I think that a large part of the confusion revolves around the two dictionary definitions of the word “cure:”
- “Relief of the symptoms of a disease or condition.” I believe most of commenters have this definition in mind. It’s like getting rid of a headache.
- “Eliminate (a disease, condition, or injury) with medical treatment.” This is what I based my arguments upon. It’s like eliminating headaches for the rest of your life.
Relief vs eliminate. Commenters are talking about relief of symptoms, which is necessarily temporary. I am talking about complete elimination of symptoms, which implies permanence.
So to clear the air, I am going to speak plainly and succinctly:
Yes! Anxiety and Panic Attacks can be cured!
The goal of all treatment for Anxiety and Panic Attacks is the alleviation of symptoms. Some people call this a “cure.” However it is done, the relief may be temporary or it may last for years. Let’s hope it lasts for the rest of your life; nothing could make me happier.
No! There is no permanent cure for Anxiety and Panic Attacks!
There is no permanent cure for Anxiety and Panic Attacks – yet
The tendency toward Anxiety and Panic Attacks is both genetic and environmentally based. Many, many scientific studies have proven this fact.
Your psychological makeup is a part of you, just as much as the shape of your head. Although symptoms of Anxiety and Panic Attacks may be relieved on a long-term basis, such relief always has the potential to be broken since a person has an in-built tendency toward those mental problems.
I’m not trying to depress you; I’m just being honest.
You’re stuck with your head shape. You’re stuck with your basic psychological makeup. But you can do something about that psychology to relieve your symptoms for years. Just don’t fool yourself that it might be permanent. It may be, it may not be.
Beware of snake oil!
Anxiety and Panic Attack “cures” are a growth industry
When the original article was posted in 2008, searching for “anxiety cure” came up with 343,000 hits. In 2013 it was 30,200,000 hits. Typing in “panic attack cure” gets you 2,890,000 hits vs 782,000 in 2008.
While some of these “cures” may be legitimate and have a solid scientific foundation, many are just the wild ideas of hucksters meant to part you from your money. None of them have the approval of national psychiatric groups, such as the American Psychiatric Association.
The best, longest lasting treatment for Anxiety and Panic Attacks is that provided by mental health professionals. It may be therapy only, drugs only or a combination of the two. The best way to relieve symptoms is the technique called CBT, which helps you to change damaging thoughts into beneficial ones. With this treatment it may be possible to ward off Anxiety and Panic Attacks long-term, maybe even for the rest of your life.
The bottom line
You can get long-lasting relief from Anxiety and Panic Attack symptoms. But keep in mind that you have a built-in tendency toward these problems, so you may need touch-up treatment over time.