Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia is an excessive fear of being in public places
from where you feel escape would be difficult. One may
avoid public places and may not go out of the house. It can
greatly affect your life. It is not uncommon to suffer from
depression, social anxiety and panic attacks at the same time.
Common situations:

  • In shops, crowds and other public places.
  • Travelling in trains, buses, or planes.
  •  On a bridge.
  • In a lift.
  • In a cinema, restaurant, etc, where there is no
    easy exit.
  •  Being anywhere away from your house.

Symptoms include becoming very anxious, nervous and
distressed with an intense desire to get out. The anxiety
usually causes physical symptoms, such as:

  • Rapid heart rate (racing pulse), ‘thumping heart’
    (palpitations)
  • Shaking (tremor) of hands or legs, excessive sweating
  • Dryness of mouth, feeling sick (nauseated)
  • Chest pain, headaches
  • Feeling of a ‘knot in the stomach
  • Rapid breathing, feeling of impending doom or passing out

What is the treatment for agoraphobia?

  1.  Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) :
    CBT helps you to change certain ways that you think, feel and
    behave. CBT is usually conducted weekly for about 50 minute
    each, for several weeks.
    Note: CBT does not look into the events of the past. CBT
    aims to change your current thought processes and/or
    behaviours. It generally works well to treat most phobias.
  2. Antidepressant medicines
    Commonly used to treat depression; but reduce the symptoms
    of phobias, even if you are not depressed.
    Antidepressants do not work straightaway. It takes at least 2-4
    weeks before their effect builds up. However, commonly
    some people stop the medicine after a week or so, as they feel
    that it is not working. You need to give it time. It is best to
    persevere if you are prescribed an antidepressant medicine.
  • Antidepressants are not usually addictive.
  • There are several types of antidepressants.

Note: after starting an antidepressant, in some people anxiety
symptoms become worse for a few days before they start to
improve.