Send Your Replies to Pat about Agoraphobia and Panic Attacks

Hi Pat,

I suffer with both Agoraphobia and panic attacks and I think my panic has a lot to do with not wanting to leave my trailer.I’m also a multiple with bad PTSD.

I was sitting in an AA meeting a long time ago and had my first major panic attack. The old men in there set me off because my grandpa molester was also a drunk I guess and they triggered me. I was going to my Mental Health doctor after the meeting and he explained what he called a panic attack where adrenalin races to your heart and you sweat and shake etc.

He put me on Inderal, a heart med for them, as they stop adrenalin rushes.Some people use tranquilizers but they don’t work for panic attacks for me like the Inderal

As long as I take the Inderal 20 minutes before going someplace, I can leave the house easier. I take them before doctor appointments etc. I go through times when I have to take them daily (20 mg and sometimes 40 mg) even at home during the day as flashbacks can cause me panic.

I hope this has been helpful.

Judy H.


Hi Pat,

Panic is certainly a difficult thing to deal with, especially since once you've had a panic attack in a certain situation, it sets you up for "anticipatory panic", where even thinking about a situation in which you've panicked before can bring on another attack. This is how my issues with panic progressed, panic which was centered mostly around driving, especially driving over bridges and on highways, and talking to people. Over time, it got to where I would even experience panic while driving around my tiny, rural town of less than 2000 residents at less than 30mph. That combined with my issues talking to people- where my face would turn red, I'd break out in a sweat and feel like I needed to cry- caused me to become somewhat agoraphobic. All of this went on for many years. It wasn't until after spending some time in a psychiatric hospital that I began to devote most of my energy to my healing.

Fortunately, I was able to find a wonderful mind/body psychologist who helped me to explore many of my memories of abuse and my dreams, a process that allowed me to release a lot of the energy I had stored in my body related to my abuse. These releases would usually involve crying and shaking while relating issues about my past to my therapist. Strange as this might sound, it was through this process of remembering, speaking my truth and releasing the related energies that I was able to not only heal my panic but many other struggles I was experiencing because of my abuse as well. While I do, on rare occasions, still have some issues related to the energies of my past, today I am able to speak comfortably in situations that used to always bring on a panic attack and am also able to drive most anywhere I need to go. In fact, in order to see my therapist, I needed to drive over a bridge that before my healing, always caused my worst panic episodes.

I'm aware that traditional Western medicine does not often encourage many of the mind/body practices that I so often advocate in my writings here at MV. In fact, I can remember a time when I too would have considered them to not be especially useful. Having experienced the tremendous capacity of my own mind/body to heal through such practices however, today I am not only grateful to have found them but hope to inspire others to consider them in their healing as well. Please keep in mind that it is important to always discuss these complementary healing modalities with your therapist/psychiatrist first and to only explore those practices that will be in your best interest and which will most effectively and safely facilitate your healing. Here's a the link to a website on panic and mind/body practices that I found informative.:

I know how difficult it is to try and manage the energy swells that can occur during panic attacks, Pat. I wish you all the best in releasing some of these energies and reclaiming your ability to live the fulfilling life that you truly deserve!


Hi Pat:
I could/should write a book on panic attacks and agrophobia/claustrophiba!

If driving when a panic attack hits and you can not pull over, run one hand down and around the steering wheel and count the bumps in the steering wheel. It distracts from the event that brought on the panic and settles you down till you can stop and focus.

If you are in a strange place and don't feel safe, carry a small toy, round object or car keys. Something you and everyone inside are familiar with. The cold keys help, as it calms the brain somehow, feel it, the keys or object and know it is your key to car or house, etc. I used to carry a small cooler with ice in it and a face cloth. Putting ice on your neck, back and front of neck and a cold face cloth on your face and head even, yes head, calms the responses down. Slows the heart rate and stops the panic. It may take a few minutes but it works. Drink cold water, slowly, also. As I always used to carry a bottle of cold water in a cooler with me every where I went.

If a large building scares you or the hlights in it are too bright, as was the case with me, just stand out side or sit in the car for a few minuets and realize it is safe for you to go in. Visualize yourself in the store or building as being calm, in control and peaceful. Go in and buy only two things. Pay for it and leave. Keep trying until you can go in and buy more and stay longer. Go in the store for longer periods of time. I had a cart load of groceries once and was almost ready to check out when something triggered me and I literally left the cart where it was, ran out the door and got into the car and shook and cried. Someone knew me in the store and ran out after me and talked to me. The store cashed me out-all I had to do was go in and pay and they gave me a half gallon of ice cream, free. As I remember the shelves started to spin and the Campbells' soups were talking to me! Or so it seemed. The lights for whatever reason were too bright.

I recently started going to a new church. I drove by it. I drove into the parking lot. I parked and went to the door. I came home and called someone I knew who went there. I needed to know where the bathrooms were, so I could wet my face if I became panicy, or go into a stall and be alone, to know where the water fountian and kitchen were. It was bigger inside than I thought. I felt pressure in my chest and scared. My heart was beating faster than usual. I knew only one person and he was not there! I sat down as near the door as I could, on the end isle and the feeling passed. I soon got caught up in the music and the difference in services and loved it. I also took a Xanax before I went. It's called "taking care of yourself".

Right now I am without a car and I hate it. I had a car accidnet a week ago Saturday, as my brakes failed. I can see the brick building I hit coming to me today. There was nothing I could do. The brakes went to the floor. I can't wait untilI I can get a different car and drive again. The sooner the better so I don't quit driving. Scared, yes. Scared then, too, as it ws my first accident ever in 30 years of driving. I grabbed my keys and pocket book, go out and kept the keys in my hands. I've rehearsed this secerino thousands of times. Went to the Dunkin Donuts to call police. I don't have a cell phone. (I supposse a cell phone would be a good object to have in your hand and even make a call to a friend or therapist as needed). In the distant past, I have called my therapist when I would have a flash back or panic and he would walk me through it until I calmed down.

The last thing is to breathe. Stop and settle. Keep breathing - slowly and deeply- until you feel yourself settle down. May take awhile. All the while, if you can, tell yourselves, "I am calm, I am centered, I am feeling peaceful, I am strong, my mind is sharply focused, my mind is crystal clear...Etc" Even if, at that moment and we know it isn't or won't be. It is the positive affirmations that help. Nothing negative, not :even " I don't feel well but maybe I will," as that sets us up for more panic, as the brain receives a negative massage. Positive, positive and more positive messages.

You can do this. IF I have done it, I know many of you can do it, too. It's hard work and for many of us continuing constantly but very well worth it. Take care.


Dear Pat,

I can sure identify with you, I have had bad DID and panic, and at times was homebound. I really like MF's great advice, and do many of the same physical kind of things to help my panicy states.

One crucial piece that helped me really turn around is psychotherapy with an ACT therapist. "ACT" stands for Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. It comes from a more modern, wise, and compassionate worldview and science. The tools expand on cognitive and behavioral techniques, but improve them. It is also called "contextual CBT." They use tools, but always compassionately consider the context you are living in, including your past history.

The new psychotherapy is effective for trauma, anxiety/ panic, for integrating self/ alter issues of DID, and actions to help get on with your life out of the home.

I hope this or other contributions help you…



Dear Pat,

RE: Panic attacks...........breathe, breathe, breathe....................sit calmly on a chair, close your eyes, and breathe deep wonderful therapeutic breaths - Am going through a lawsuit at the present time brought by my ex to modify the original divorce agreement. Panic is not going to be a part of this as I felt it so strongly 20 years ago - the first go around. All the insecurity comes storming back a lot quicker then it left - first the confidence to find a good attorney, then to hire one, then to stay present and do what is necessary to "WIN".........My heart starts a quick jumping up and down and I know where it is heading......and I am in charge, I can make it calm down, I am okay and meditate....I also spent many years at Codependency meetings afterwards becoming a sponsor and Yes, steps 1,2 and 3...................Whomever your higher power is, a tree, a power line, the sun, or in my case G-d, I ask to take the pain, the panic and the lawsuit....................It works........................

Hope this helps.


Dear Pat,

Unfortunately I don't know much about Agoraphobia, but I am sure MANY VOICES' readers will have some useful comments. One friend's daughter had this (without DID) and took Paxil, which helped her. But any medication use would need to be discussed with your psychiatrist or MD.

Good luck!