Approximately 2.4 million people in the U.S. have panic disorder. As the name implies, the person with this disorder experiences a sudden episode of very intense fear, oftentimes mistaken for a heart attack. During the panic attack, a person may have these symptoms: headache; dizziness; fainting spell; nausea; sweating; rapid heartbeat; and sense of impending doom or even death; tightness in the throat or chest. These attacks usually last about 30 minutes followed by fatigue.
The exact cause is unknown, but genetics, mental or environmental stress and/or biochemical changes in brain function may be contributory factors. Medications and psychotherapy are the main forms of treatment for panic attacks.
There are two high-quality clinical studies on inositol in the treatment of panic attacks.
In one, 21 patients with panic attacks were randomized to a crossover treatment trial of 12 grams a day of inositol or placebo for a total of four weeks. Results showed that inositol reduced the frequency and severity of panic attacks with minimal side effects.
In another study, conducted in Israel, 20 patients with panic attacks received 18 grams a day of inositol or 150 milligrams of fluvoxamine a day in a randomized, crossover trial lasting four weeks. Results showed that inositol was more effective than fluvoxamine in reducing the number of panic attacks per week. Inositol dropped the number by four and the drug by 2.4. Moreover, inositol-treated patients had minimal adverse effects, whereas fluvoxamine-treated patients experienced nausea and tiredness. Now for depression, which afflicts 17 million U.S. adults. What causes depression is unknown at this time. Several contributory factors include: physical changes in the brain in depressed individuals; abnormal levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain; early trauma during childhood; loss of loved one; hereditary influence; and hormonal changes, such as those experienced during menopause.
Other than drugs, natural remedies include:
electroconvulsive therapy; psychotherapy; acupuncture; the herb St. John’s wort; omega 3 fatty acids; yoga; meditation; and guided imagery massage therapy.
There is early evidence from one study that shows inositol as being effective in depression. This study was conducted in Israel, with 28 depressed subjects randomized to receive either 12 grams a day of inositol or placebo for four weeks. Inositol treatment led to significant improvement in symptoms and had no negative effects on the kidney, liver or blood.