I have severe panic disorder combined with chronic depression. PD diagnosed 8yrs ago, depression 20yrs ago.
When I first started having panic attacks, I did not know what was happening. It took about 6mos to finally diagnose PD, rather than heart problems or other health problems. It was not pleasant at all.
We played with meds for a while till we found one that worked. I was on a combo of Effexor and clonazepam. I am no longer on the effexor, 3yrs ago or so, my life was stable, my depression and PD stable and I no longer felt the need for the antidepressant. The withdrawl from Effexor is a totally different thread
I take clonazepam on an as needed basis, but a minimum of 2/day...can take up to 4 a day. It is quick acting, I feel the affects within 20-30mins.
I also went through some additional therepy for the PD, in which I was taught different ways to cope when I do have an attack. For example, even with severe attacks, I know that I am not dying (which is what I thought prior to diagnoses) and that it will peak and pass. I use deep breathing techniques, fish tanks and my pets to help cope....Now I can cope with them fairly well.
I spent alot of time researching different relaxing techniques, because although the meds work, there don't keep me from having the odd panic attack....
The meds work great for me. I suffer 1-2 full blown attacks per month, sometimes none....periods of stress, or new situations can trigger an attack. In my most recent case, a new med has increased my anxiety and gave me 2 full blown attacks on Sunday, back to back... something I have not had for about 3-4yrs. (if I have an attack it is usually mild, and not one after another) So I've had to increase my meds for now.
I tried many different meds in the beginning....zoloft, paxil, wellbutrin, lorazepam, ativan, prozac, and more. Some work for some people... I have heard that paxil is tolerated well and is one of the ones recommended for PD. Unfortunately my system is a little finicky when it comes to meds that affect brain chemistry
If you or he have any direct questions, I'd be happy to answer from my experiences.
ETA: clonazepam is aka Klonopin