Panic attacks can be terrifying to the person who experiences them. The palpitations, sweating, shortness of breath, dizziness, and fear of losing control can land a person in the emergency room. The fear of having another attack can lead to depression and even agoraphobia, the fear of going out into public places. Prescription medications are often used to relieve the fear and anxiety that goes along with panic attacks, but the most common ones can cause sedation – making it difficult for the anxious individual to work or function in day-to-day life. There’s also a risk of becoming dependent on these medications leading to withdrawal symptoms when the drug is stopped. Now, it appears there’s a new medicine for anxiety and panic that may relieve the symptoms without sedation or risk of dependence on the medication.
A New Medicine for Anxiety and Panic?
This compound called XBG173 has been tested in animals and found to significantly reduce anxiety without causing sedation. It works by stimulating a protein which increases production of receptors known as GABA receptors. GABA receptors are inhibitory type receptors that help to reduce the brain stimulation that leads to fear, panic, and anxiety. When the number of GABA receptors is increased by XBG173 it puts the brakes on fear and anxiety – without causing the undesirable side effects seen with many other anti-anxiety drugs such as the benzodiazepines.
Is It Safe for Humans?
Encouraged by the positive results of XBG173 in animals, researchers went on to test this medicine for anxiety and panic on seventy-one men. The men were given either XBD173, alprazolam (a benzodiazepine anti-anxiety medication), or a placebo. The men on XBD173 experienced fewer panic attacks than those who received alprazolam. Even more encouraging was the fact that the men on XBG173 had fewer significant side effects. They were also spared the uncomfortable symptoms of drug withdrawal experienced with anti-anxiety medications.
The Bottom Line?
Could this new medicine for anxiety and panic revolutionize the treatment of anxiety and panic? Short-term, this medication looks promising, but longer term studies are needed to determine how safe it is for prolonged use. If it proves to be safe, it could offer a better alternative than traditional medications for those suffering from chronic anxiety, panic disorder, and severe phobias.
Although medicines for anxiety and panic can be helpful for controlling symptoms, they’re not a good long-term solution. Short-term therapy designed to teach new ways to deal with fear and anxiety is often beneficial. Hypnosis also appears to help some people who suffer from anxiety and panic disorder. On a positive note, using medications such as XBG173 can help to temporarily relieve symptoms until new ways of dealing with stress can be learned.
Science. 2009, Jul 24: 325-490