Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

If you have agoraphobia, you may be too afraid or embarrassed to go to your doctor's office. Consider starting, instead, with a phone call to your doctor. Some health care professionals, particularly mental health experts who specialize in agoraphobia and anxiety disorders, may be able to start by meeting with you in your own home.

Here's some information to help you prepare for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.

What you can do

  • Write down any symptoms you've been experiencing, and for how long.
  • Write down your key personal information, especially any significant stress or life changes that you experienced around the time your symptoms first developed.
  • Make a list of your medical information, including other physical or mental health conditions with which you've been diagnosed. Also write down the names of any medications you're taking.
  • Ask a trusted family member or friend to be present for your appointment, if possible. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor in advance so that you can make the most of your appointment.

For agoraphobia, some basic questions to ask your doctor 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 chronic?
  • Do you recommend treatment? If yes, with what types of therapy?
  • I have other health problems. How should I manage these together with agoraphobia?
  • What is the risk of side effects from the drug or drugs you're recommending?
  • How soon do you expect my symptoms to improve?
  • With treatment, will I eventually be comfortable in the situations that scare me so much now?
  • Does agoraphobia increase my risk of other mental health problems?
  • Should I see a mental health specialist?
  • Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend visiting?

In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment.

What to expect from your doctor

Being ready to answer your doctor's questions may help leave time to go over any points you want to talk about in-depth. You should be prepared to answer the following questions from your doctor:

  • Have you recently had a spell or an attack when all of a sudden you felt frightened, anxious or very uneasy?
  • Would you say that you have 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?
  • What else concerns you that we haven't yet talked about?
  • 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 type of therapy was most beneficial?
  • Have you ever thought about harming yourself or others?
  • Do you drink alcohol or use illegal drugs? How often?
Apr. 21, 2011