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The Science of Agoraphobia

Everyday Einstein tackles the science behind agoraphobia. Plus, how you can help a popular author who suffers from this debilitating mental illness.

By
Lee Falin, PhD,
May 9, 2014
Episode #100

Page 2 of 2

The current treatments for panic disorder and agoraphobia include cognitive behavioral therapy, and/or the prescription of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) usually involves such methods as helping the patient understand the physical and mental aspects of the flight or fight response, and teaching patients relaxation techniques. Another key part of cognitive behavioral therapy is encouraging patients to expose themselves to situations that they fear will trigger an attack, but in a way that helps them build up a tolerance to such situations. 

In addition to in-person CBT conducted by a psychologist, some research has shown that self-help treatments (sometimes referred to bibliotherapycan also be effective in dealing with panic disorders and agoraphobia. A recent study also found that just using internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy can help significantly with symptoms. However even in the self-help treatments, the first step is to seek evaluation from a professional.

SSRIs work by helping to increase the amount of serotonin available, by preventing the brain from absorbing it. The jury is still out on whether or not SSRIs are needed in addition to cognitive behavioral therapy.

Conclusion

So now hopefully you understand a little more about agoraphobia, panic attacks, and panic disorder. As I mentioned earlier, chances are, someone you know is suffering with one or more of these conditions, and the cost to a person suffering from a mental illness often goes beyond the time and money involved in medical treatment.

Once again, if you’re a fan of science-fiction and fantasy, you can help out Robison Wells out by sponsoring an anthology written by a bunch of amazing (and in some cases, bestselling) authors, including Brandon Sanderson, who have banded together to help him raise money to get out of his current situation. 

If you liked today’s episode, you can become a fan of Everyday Einstein on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, where I’m @QDTEinstein. If you have a question that you’d like to see on a future episode, send me an email at everydayeinstein@quickanddirtytips.com.

Agoraphobia and other images courtesy of Shutterstock.

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