Panic attacks are mostly treated with a technique called applied relaxation training (ART); however, a recent study has demonstrated the far reaching benefits of psychoanalysis - an age old technique employed since the 20th century, over ART in treating panic disorder.
During the study, 49 patients were given psychotherapy twice a week or applied relaxation training for 12 weeks. The training helped patients pick up ways to relax the muscles, a technique they could employ to bail them out when they sense an attack. It was found that 73% of patients who were treated with psychoanalysis reported positive response to treatment, against 39% of patients who underwent ART.
The reason perhaps is that Psychoanalysis assists in comprehending the background of the psychological symptoms, similar to the symptoms of a panic attack. Researcher and study author Barbara Milrod, from New York-Presbyterian Hospital said, "It's really aimed at getting patients to understand the underlying emotional meaning of their panic, its root psychological causes. Once that is achieved, patients can acknowledge previously unacceptable feelings and ideas, which have led to panic, as they arise."
The present study is the first of its kind to demonstrate that talk therapy is effective in treating panic disorders.