In some cases, fear of having a panic attack may be so great that one may not be able to leave safety of their home. In other cases, one learns to live a restricted lifestyle and is able to tolerate certain situations as long as one is accompanied by a dependent family member or friend. Risk factors that predispose to agoraphobia include having a panic disorder, a stressful experience earlier in life (child abuse), and/or alcohol or substance abuse.
Agoraphobia can lead to social isolation, depression, and make one overtly dependent on others. The despair often leads to alcohol and substance abuse to help cope with the situation of hopelessness and loneliness.
Once diagnosis of this disorder is made, treatment includes medications and behavior therapy. Medications like SSRIs, tricyclic anti depressants or anti anxiety medications do not cure the disorder but significantly reduce symptoms and panic sensations. In many cases, symptoms of agoraphobia can be controlled within 12 months.
Cognitive behavior therapy also helps people over come agoraphobia. One learns to cope with panic attacks using relaxation techniques. In this treatment, one is slowly desensitized to things that create panic.
There are some people who claim that herbal and dietary supplements like Kava may help but these supplements have also been linked to liver damage.
Individuals who have agoraphobia should definitely seek treatment because the disorder can be successfully treated in most cases. There are also support groups where one can connect with others and understand more about the disorder. Finally, those who have agoraphobia should avoid alcohol and use of illicit drugs- these recreational items just make the condition worse.