What are PANIC, AGORAPHOBIA, & CLAUSTROPHOBIA?
Agoraphobia often, but not always, coincides with Panic Disorder. Agoraphobia is characterized by a fear of having a panic attack in a place from which escape is difficult. In a mild form, sufferers are uncomfortable or nervous about something bad happening to them (like getting severely ill, fainting, losing control, or embarrassing themselves) in situations where they can't escape or get help (like traveling alone to a far away unfamiliar place, or claustrophobia such as trapped in a crowd, elevator, subway, traffic jam, or driving on an express highway, tunnel or bridge, or a wide open mall or empty park, or home alone, or nomophobia--being outside of mobile phone service area). They may limit their traveling alone or require that a partner accompany them. In the most extreme form, these situations might make the person feel like they will die or go crazy, and many severe sufferers refuse to leave their homes, often for years at a time. Others develop a fixed route, or territory, from which they cannot deviate, for example the route between home and work. It becomes impossible for these people to travel alone beyond what they consider to be their safety zones without suffering severe anxiety.
Fortunately, there is very effective treatment for panic and agoraphobia, possibly without medication, and you can be hopeful of overcoming your anxiety and living a normal peaceful life. Hundreds of studies support that the most effective treatment for panic and agoraphobia is a special type of behavior therapy, known as "Gradual Exposure Therapy." Gradual exposure enables sufferers to very gradually overcome their fears and avoidant behavior at a pace THEY choose and are comfortable with, so they are never overwhelmed. Results are achieved in a matter of months not years. Gradual exposure is more effective than medication or any other kind of therapy. Medication provides only temporary or partial relief and has side effects; symptoms just come back when you end the medication. Gradual exposure provides permanent relief, essentially eliminating excessive anxiety and other symptoms forever and restoring a normal life in which clients are more relaxed and less avoidant. Most of my clients benefit from exposure therapy with no medication at all. Many people's lives are transformed, getting the jobs and relationships they deserve but never thought possible until completing treatment.
HOW DO I FIND A THERAPIST TO TREAT AGORAPHOBIA AND PANIC?
I practice in Manhattan (34th St. & 5th near the Empire State Building and Macy's) and northern New Jersey (15 minutes from the GWB), and would be happy to offer you a free consultation at 212-726-2390 or arrange an appointment for you. You can also book your appointment online instantly yourself. If you live outside of the New York metropolitan area you can find a local therapist by contacting the Association of Cognitive Behavioral Therapies (www.abct.org) or the OCD Foundation (www.ocfoundation.org). Even though the latter is for OCD, the same people are equally comptetent to treat agoraphobia and panic. Ask them for an agoraphobia and panic specialist in your area. If they don't have someone in your area, ask them if they know of a similar organization in your region that could suggest a referral for you. Such organizations would have words like "Anxiety," "Fear," "Cognitive Therapy," or "Behavioral Therapy" in their titles. Once they give you the names, you still have to call and interview the therapists by phone.
IF YOU ARE CONSIDERING ANOTHER THERAPIST THERE ARE 2 TEST QUESTIONS YOU MUST ASK BEFORE MAKING AN APPOINTMENT:
(1) Is gradual exposure therapy the main technique they use? If they don't, forget about using them. They might say they "talk" about it and help clients "see things more rationally," which is helpful, but that is no substitute for gradual exposure. And:
(2) How many people have they SUCCESSFULLY treated FOR panic and agoraphobia? They should have treated at least several people, the people should no longer have severe anxiety and avoidance, and should not be taking medication any more by the end of therapy. They should NOT say they just helped people "live with" panic better.
BUT THE FIRST STEP IS TO EMAIL YOUR QUESTION TO DR BRODSKY NOW or call 212-726-2390 (only NY, NJ, CT calls). Dr. Brodsky's 2 offices are convenient to the entire New York Metropolitan area, including midtown Manhattan (on 34th St., close to every subway, bus, and train line), Long Island, Westchester, Rockland, Connecticut, and New Jersey. You can MAKE AN APPOINTMENT INSTANTLY ONLINE your or call the above number.