If you have agoraphobia, you may be too afraid or embarrassed to go to your health care provider's office. Consider starting, instead, with a phone call to your provider. Some health care providers, particularly mental health experts who specialize in agoraphobia and anxiety disorders, may be able to offer you options that are less stressful than meeting in an office.
What you can do
To prepare for your appointment, make a list of:
- Any symptoms you've been experiencing, and for how long.
- Your key personal information, especially any significant stress or life changes that you experienced around the time your symptoms first developed.
- Your medical information, including other physical or mental health conditions that you have. Also write down the names and dosages of any medications and supplements you're taking.
Ask a trusted family member or friend to go with you to your appointment, if possible, to help you remember information.
Prepare questions to ask your health care provider so that you can make the most of your appointment. For agoraphobia, some basic questions include:
- What do you believe is causing my symptoms?
- Are there any other possible causes?
- How will you determine my diagnosis?
- Should I be tested for any underlying medical problems?
- Is my condition likely temporary or long term (chronic)?
- What type of treatment do you recommend?
- I have other health problems. How best can I manage these together with agoraphobia?
- What is the risk of side effects from the medication you're recommending?
- Are there options other than taking medications?
- How soon do you expect my symptoms to improve?
- With treatment, will I eventually be comfortable in the situations that currently scare me?
- Does agoraphobia increase my risk of other mental health problems?
- Should I see a mental health specialist?
- Are there any printed materials that I can have? What websites do you recommend?
Don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
Being ready to answer your health care provider's questions may leave time to go over any points you want to talk about in-depth. Be prepared to answer the following questions from your provider:
May 02, 2014
- Have you recently had a spell or an attack when all of a sudden you felt frightened, anxious or very uneasy?
- Have you recently been feeling nervous, anxious or on edge?
- During these attacks of fear and anxiety, have you ever felt like you couldn't breathe or like you were having a heart attack?
- What other symptoms do you have?
- When did you first notice these symptoms?
- When are your symptoms most likely to occur?
- Does anything seem to make your symptoms better or worse?
- Do you avoid any situations or places because you fear they'll trigger your symptoms?
- What do you think is causing your symptoms?
- How are your symptoms affecting your life and the people closest to you?
- Have you been diagnosed with any medical conditions?
- Have you been treated for other psychiatric symptoms or mental illness in the past? If yes, what treatment was most helpful?
- Have you ever thought about harming yourself or others?
- Do you drink alcohol or use illegal drugs? How often?
- Anxiety disorders. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. http://www.psychiatryonline.org. Accessed Dec 10, 2013.
- Highlights of changes from DSM-IV-TR to DSM-5. American Psychiatric Association. http://www.dsm5.org/Documents/changes%20from%20dsm-iv-tr%20to%20dsm-5.pdf. Accessed Oct. 8, 2013.
- Ravindran AV, et al. Complementary and alternative therapies as add-on to pharmacotherapy for mood and anxiety disorders: A systematic review. Journal of Affective Disorders. 2013;15:707.
- Natural medicines in the clinical management of anxiety. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed Oct. 11, 2013.
- McCabe RE. Agoraphobia in adults: Epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, course, and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Dec. 10, 2013.
- Numbers count: Mental disorders in America. National Institute of Mental Health. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-numbers-count-mental-disorders-in-america/index.shtml#Agoraphobia. Accessed Dec. 10, 2013.
- Kava. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed Oct. 17, 2013.
- Anxiety disorders. National Institute of Mental Health. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml. Accessed Oct. 11, 2013.
- Mayo-Wilson E, et al. Media-delivered cognitive behavioural therapy and behavioural therapy (self-help) for anxiety disorders in adults (Protocol). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD005330.pub3/abstract. Accessed Oct. 11, 2013.
- Whiteside SP (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 2, 2014.
- Hall-Flavin DK (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 17, 2014.
- Pexeva (prescribing information). Miami, Fla.: Noven Therapeutics; 2012. http://www.pexeva.com/index.php. Accessed Jan. 21, 2014.