Treatment of Agoraphobia

The treatment of agoraphobia can be done cognitive behavioral treatment, psychotherapy with combination of medications, and by some other less commonly used methods (alternative methods). As with most psychiatric disorders, agoraphobia responds best if pharmacotherapy (use of medicines) is combined with psychotherapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy.

Drugs used in treatment of agoraphobia:

The medications used in treatment of agoraphobia (they are used in anxiety disorders) include SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) such as sertraline, paroxetin, fluoxetine etc. Other drugs used in treatment of agoraphobia are benzodiazepines, tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase (MOA) inhibitors etc. Antidepressants should ideally be combined with cognitive behavioral therapy for best effect and many studies showed that one of the most effect treatment modality is to combine cognitive behavioral therapy with medications such as antidepressants.

Cognitive behavioral therapy in agoraphobia:

In most of the patients with agoraphobia (as well as in panic disorders), exposure therapy can provide satisfactory and lasting results. The exposure therapy should be aimed at removing even sub-clinical agoraphobia and not only removal of panic attacks. The patient should be given exposure therapy till anxiety has abated completely and they can handle the situation alone without presence of friend (patients of agoraphobia can deal with exposure if they are with a friend whom they trust).

Other cognitive behavioral treatment techniques used in treatment of agoraphobia are relaxation, systematic desensitization, cognitive restructuring (this involves substitution of irrational, counterproductive beliefs with more factual and beneficial ones) etc. Relaxation techniques can help a patient to prevent panic attacks.

Less commonly used methods in treatment of agoraphobia:

Sometimes Eye Movement Desensitization and Programming has been used, but with unsatisfactory results. Many a times patients of agoraphobia benefit by joining self help and other support groups.

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