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Panic Disorder? Inositol to the Rescue


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Panic disorder is a common anxiety disorder which can have serious effects on those who suffer from it. People with panic disorder experience recurrent and unexpected panic attacks which are characterized by increased heart rate, sweating, shaking, and intense fear.[1] During such an panic, sufferers may also experience gastrointestinal discomfort or diarrhea.[2] Panic disorder can occur with or without agoraphobia, which is the fear of being in environments from which escape is difficult.[3] Comorbid conditions such as depression, other anxiety disorders, and risk of suicide is increased in those with panic disorder.[4] It causes people to avoid situations in which they fear a panic attack may occur, thus severely limiting their social opportunities, work performance, and overall quality of life.

Currently, the most common treatments for panic disorder include cognitive behavioral therapy, SSRIs, SNRIs, and tricyclic antidepressants.[5] However, for those who wish to avoid unwanted side effects from pharmaceutical drugs, inositol has been shown to be an effective method of treatment for panic disorder. Inositol is an isomer of glucose and a B vitamin which naturally occurs within a normal diet.[6],[7] Inositol is an important part of the phosphatidyl-inositol cycle.[8] This is a second messenger system used by some norepinephrine and serotonin receptors. [9] Research seems to indicate that this molecule may be able to reduce the frequency and severity of panic attacks.

Benjamin et. al. conducted a double-blind, placebo controlled crossover study to assess the efficacy of inositol. They studied 21 subjects who had a DSM-III-R diagnosis of panic disorder.[10] They found that the people who took 12 grams of inositol had more improvement in the severity and frequency of panic attacks, as well as improved feelings of phobia.[11] Other double blind placebo controlled studies have found inositol to be more effective than placebo, and one has found it to be comparable to the SSRI fluvoxamine![12],[13] By using naturally occurring molecules found in the diet, it is possible to reduce anxiety and improve the quality of life for those with panic disorder.



[1] Talor BC. (2006). Panic Disorder. British Medical Journal, 332, 7547, 951-955.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Saeed SA, Bloch RM, & Antonacci DJ. (2007). Herbal and Dietary Supplements for Treatment of Anxiety Disorders. American Family Physician.

[6] Benjamin J, Levine J, Fux M, et. al. (1995). Double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial of inositol treatment for panic disorder. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 152, 7, 1084-6.

[7] Saeed op. cit.

[8] Benjamin op.cit.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Lake J. (2008). Integrative Management of Anxiety. Psychiatric Times, 13-16.

[13] Saeed op. cit.


Clinical Contributor

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Ramona Richard, MS, NC

Ramona Richard, MS, NC

Ramona Richard graduated with honors from the University of California with a Bachelor’s Degree in psychology and graduated summa cum laude with a Master’s Degree in Health and Nutrition Education. She also holds a Standard Designated Teaching Credential from the State of California, is a California state-certified Nutrition Consultant and a member of the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.

Ramona has participated in nutrition education in both public and private venues, including high school and college presentations, radio and public speaking for the past 20 years. She is the owner of Radiance, a nutrition consulting company, the Director of Education for Sanesco International, and a medical technical writer.

Disclaimer: The information provided is only intended to be general educational information to the public. It does not constitute medical advice. If you have specific questions about any medical matter or if you are suffering from any medical condition, you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.

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