Coping and support

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Living with fear of panic attacks can make life difficult for anyone with agoraphobia, no matter how severe it is. Professional treatment of agoraphobia can help you overcome this disorder or manage it effectively so that you don't become a prisoner to your fears.

You can also take some steps on your own to cope and care for yourself when you have agoraphobia:

  • Try not to avoid feared situations. It's hard to go to places or be in situations that make you uncomfortable or that bring on symptoms of anxiety. But practicing going to more and more places does make them less frightening and anxiety-provoking. Family, friends and your therapist can help you work on this.
  • Learn calming skills. People with agoraphobia are overwhelmed with worry about losing control or having a panic attack. Working with your health care professional, you can learn how to calm and soothe yourself. You can practice these skills on your own, especially at the first hint of anxiety.
  • Practice relaxation techniques. Meditation, yoga and imagery are among the simple relaxation techniques that may help — and you can do them in the comfort of your own home. Practice these techniques when you aren't anxious or worried, and then put them into action during stressful situations.
  • Reach out. Consider joining a self-help or support group, where you can connect with others who understand what you're going through.
  • Avoid alcohol and illegal drugs. These can worsen your panic or anxiety symptoms.
  • Take medications as directed. It may take a couple of weeks to start seeing benefits when you first start a medication, but stick it out. Also, don't stop a medication without first consulting your health care professional, as some medications can cause withdrawal-like symptoms.
  • Take care of yourself. Get enough rest, eat a balanced diet and try to exercise every day.
Apr. 21, 2011