Agoraphobia is usually treated with therapy, medication, or a combination of the two. Antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are sometimes prescribed to help reduce the severity of anxiety symptoms. Cognitive behavioral therapy is also commonly used to help a person challenge their anxious thoughts and objectively access their safety in open or crowded places. Clinicians frequently use exposure therapy techniques to help a person gradually learn to manage their anxiety in public spaces. Therapy can also help a person learn to regulate their stress level and utilize relaxation techniques to lower anxiety. People with agoraphobia can also benefit from peer support groups, which can help them feel less isolate and gain the courage to manage their anxiety and overcome fears.
Though it might feel insurmountable, it’s important to remember that agoraphobia is highly treatable. If possible, prevention should be the first course of action. Roughly six million Americans will experience panic disorder in a year, and a third of these will develop agoraphobia.4 If you have had a panic attack or experienced intense anxiety in an open or crowded space, don’t wait until it gets worse to recruit help. Meeting with a counselor can help you learn to manage your fears before they feel unmanageable and lead to symptoms of agoraphobia. But if you already qualify for a diagnosis of agoraphobia, it definitely can be treated.