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26 Feb 2003

Agoraphobia
Have had panic attacks for 27 years since 18 years old (now 46 years old) (was always shy but fairly confident and popular). Was put on Tranxene, then Ativan due to stress - extremely traumatic to get off them nine years later as they were, by then, causing the very symptoms they were supposed to treat. Have been coping with life's knocks since then - we first lost our grand-parents. Then we lost my dearest Dad, who lived with us, after a long battle with cancer. My young son (at that time 15 years old) and my Mom (last week) were held up at gunpoint and robbed in separate incidents, various car/motorbike accidents (my son and I) etc and I also have been looking after my Mom who has chronic headaches and depression due to shingles for 18 months after the loss of my Dad. I have a caring and supportive husband, a successful and loving eldest son (now 30 years old) and daughter-in-law and baby grandson, and a caring 16-year-old son who excels in sport. I have now developed agoraphobia and cannot lead a normal life any longer. I cannot go into any enclosed places (buildings, etc) especially near people without being terrified. I work from home running my husband's financial affairs and staff affairs but cannot cope with meetings of any kind. Please can you give me some suggesions and how to get a life!
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Expert
CyberShrink
cybershrink

01 Jan 0001

Dear Sunshine,
Dare I suggest that my usual answer to this kind of problem will probably work ? Namely --- see a psychiatrist for a full proper assessment, to clarify the diagnosis. Then examine with him / her the range of treatment options open to you. Medicines including the SSRI antidepressants ( unlikely, unlike the Ativan family of drugs, to cause dependency problems ) can help greatly to get rid of the phobia, as can ( and best still, a combination ! ) psychological therapies helping you to learn to control the negative reactions and re-learn to be free to travel and move about as you please. Don't delay, as these things are easier to clear up, the sooner one starts work on it, before they become too built in as a habit and a way of life.
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