Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder that causes people to feel anxiety in fear when in public settings or specific situations. Someone who experiences this anxiety is afraid of being in any environment in which he or she feels panicked, embarrassed or fearful. Examples of settings that people with agoraphobia may avoid include grocery stores, shopping malls and public transportation. This anxiety disorder is treatable in a few different ways. Agoraphobia treatments will vary depending on the needs of the patient. The two primary forms of treatment are psychotherapy and medication. These are often used in combination for the best results.
Psychotherapy is the medical term for what is more commonly known as counseling or talk therapy. A therapist helps an agoraphobic patient work through his anxiety in multiple ways. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is used as a short-term method of treatment. It teaches the patient skills on how to handle their anxiety. Patients also learn skills on how to re-introduce themselves to public settings and other situations. In some cases, exposure therapy is used to help patients overcome their fears. A therapist will also try to determine and treat the source of a patient’s anxiety. There are many factors than can cause people to suffer from an anxiety disorder.
In addition to psychotherapy, medication may be used to manage agoraphobia. Anti-anxiety medications are prescribed and typically used on a short-term basis. Some examples of anxiety medication include Xanax, Klonopin and Ativan. It is important to note that these medications have a high-risk for abuse. Psychiatrist and physicians may prescribe these medications if psychotherapy alone is not producing sufficient results. Anti-anxiety medications should only be used under careful supervision. They should not be considered a permanent fix for agoraphobia, but they can certainly help decrease anxiety and panic for patients.
As mentioned above, the agoraphobia treatments used will depend entirely on the needs of the patient. Some patients successfully treat their agoraphobia through talk therapy alone. Others need a combination of talk therapy and medicine in order to move forward with their lives. Medical professionals that may treat this disorder include therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists or nurse practitioners. The treatments available may also depend on the area a person lives in, their insurance coverage and other similar factors. Many places provide treatment on a sliding-scale basis. The successful treatment of agoraphobia is certainly possible, so long as professional help is given.