Patients with agoraphobia may overcome with agoraphobia treatment. Agoraphobia treatment usually includes both psychotherapy and medication. It may take some time, but treatment can help you get better.
If you think you have agoraphobia, and the anxiety is interfering with your daily life. You should talk to a primary care provider or psychiatrist.
The healthcare provider may ask you:
- Do you get stressed about leaving your house?
- Are there any places or situations you avoid because you’re afraid? Why are you afraid?
- Do you rely on others to do your shopping and errands?
A healthcare provider can diagnose agoraphobia based on your symptoms, how often they happen and how severe they are. It is important to be open and honest with your healthcare providers. Your provider may diagnose agoraphobia if you meet specific standards developed by the American Psychiatric Association. To have a diagnosis of agoraphobia, a person must feel extreme fear or panic in at least two of the following situations:
- Using public transportation.
- Being in an open space.
- Being in an enclosed space, such as a movie theater, meeting room, or small store.
- Standing in a line or being in a crowd.
- Being out of your home alone.
How can I reduce my risk of agoraphobia?
There is no proven way to prevent agoraphobia. However, it is easier to manage in its earlier stages. The more you avoid situations, the more fearful you may become.
Some people with severe agoraphobia are unable to leave their homes at all and are totally dependent on others for help.
There are a number of different treatments for agoraphobia. You’ll most likely need a combination of treatment methods.
Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, involves meeting with a therapist or other mental health professional on a regular basis.
This gives you the opportunity to talk about your fears and any issues that may be contributing to your fears.
Psychotherapy is often combined with medications for optimum effectiveness. It’s generally a short-term treatment that can be stopped once you’re able to cope with your fears and anxiety.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT):
A therapist can help you work through your fears. Using cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
A mental healthcare provider can help you recognize thoughts that cause you anxiety.
Then you’ll learn ways to react more productively.
Generally a short-term treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on teaching you specific skills to better tolerate anxiety, directly challenge your worries and gradually return to the activities you’ve avoided because of anxiety.
The aim of applied relaxation is to teach you how to relax.
This is achieved using a series of exercises designed to teach you how to:
- spot the signs and feelings of anxiety
- relax your muscles to relieve tension
- use these techniques in stressful or everyday situations to prevent you from feeling tense and panicky.
Exposure therapy can also help you overcome your fears.
In this type of therapy, you’re gently and slowly exposed to the situations or places you fear.
This may make your fear diminish over time.
Your healthcare provider also may suggest medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).
Those medications can treat depression and anxiety disorders.
Self-care tips for managing symptoms:
Some helpful strategies for people with agoraphobia include:
- seeking help and following the resulting treatment plan
- practicing relaxation techniques
- getting regular exercise
- having a healthful diet
- avoiding drinks that contain alcohol or caffeine, including sodas
- avoiding recreational drugs.
How can I learn to cope with agoraphobia?
Take good care of yourself, take your medications as prescribed, and practice techniques you learn from your therapist.
And don’t allow yourself to avoid situations and places that spark anxiety.
The combination can help you do things you enjoy with less fear.