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What is the Most Common Treatment for Agoraphobia?

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  • Written By: Christy Bowles
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 28 October 2016
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Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder related to a fear open or public spaces. Individuals with this disorder often have marked anxiety or nervousness about being in crowed or public places where they may not be able to get out quickly. One common treatment for agoraphobia is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a psychotherapy or counseling method that focuses on controlling the trigger and symptoms of anxiety. Another treatment for agoraphobia is medication. Doctors often prescribe anti-anxiety drugs, such as Prozac® and Zoloft®. Combined with relaxation techniques, treatment for agoraphobia is often successful, allowing patients to live normal lives.

Anxiety disorders such as agoraphobia are mental health disorders that are most commonly treated with psychotherapy and medication. One of the most commonly used psychotherapy treatments for agoraphobia is CBT. In CBT, an individual is taught how to identify the situations or environments that can trigger anxiety. Some common locations that produce anxiety are elevators, shopping malls, theaters, and airplanes The anxiety, when heightened, can lead to panic attacks, and this can often restrict an individual's activities.

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CBT also teaches patients coping skills to control the symptoms of anxiety, such as racing pulse, or difficulty breathing. Deep breathing and relaxation techniques are frequently used to control the agoraphobia symptoms if they are triggered. CBT also teaches clients to gradually change behaviors that are created by anxiety. An individual with a fear or crowded or public places may be encouraged to visit these places for short periods of time while using relaxation techniques to control the anxiety response. Over time, the excursions are lengthened, allowing the individual to gradually desensitize himself from the fear of the location or situation.

In some cases agoraphobia can be so severe and debilitating that it can cause an individual to avoid public places entirely. When the symptoms of anxiety and panic are on-going and severe, medical treatment may combine CBT with medication to provide treatment for agoraphobia. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), including Prozac® and Zoloft®, are commonly used to treat agoraphobia. These medications help reduce the symptoms and frequency of panic attacks, allowing people to engage in daily activities without the extreme stress and anxiety symptoms of agoraphobia.

Doctors and mental health clinicians typically suggest that medication be used in combination with CBT as treatment for agoraphobia. Most experts agree that medication can ease symptoms, but that behavioral changes and coping skills are also very important in the long-term management of an anxiety disorder such as agoraphobia. With increased use of relaxation methods and self-calming techniques, patients can often minimize anxiety and maintain normal functioning without frequent panic attacks. The key to treatment is identifying and controlling the anxiety in order to allow a patient to return to his normal daily activities.

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