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Emotions - anxiety disorder

Q: My problem is of multiple fears which got worse gradually. First it was in hostel in 1994 when to bunk school I got myself locked in my room. All of a sudden I was restless and had intense desire to get out and liberate myself. Luckily my friends were around they opened the lock after taking keys from me. Then I was sort of afraid that someone may lock me from outside. This was the beginning.

Then during my hotel management days, during my training I got afraid of getting into lift. I think I may get stuck. Then one night I saw an aeroplane flying and realised that people are stuck in plane for a long time and cannot get out of their free will. This made me fearful of aeroplanes. My relatives are abroad I avoid their invitations on one pretext or another because of this fear. Honestly I have never seen a plane from nearby also. My imagination of the fear holds me back and to an extent I have sacrificed my career because of this.

Then in 1999 this fear got manifested in train travelling. I had the feel that the train will not stop as it is not under my control and that I shall be trapped in it till the time the journey lasts. I used buses as alternative travel, but similar feeling that the bus wont stop made me give up travelling in buses. Now for the last two years I am confined to my scooter.

I met one psychiatrist who gave me anti-depressants, but I did not trust her and hence did not try her medication. I often feel frustrated because of all this and want to lead a normal life. Kindly help me.

A:You have the classic symptoms of panic and anxiety disorders; The anxieties as you have are common, and lead to the person living in a narrower and narrower way, until they are only able to stay at home.

There are two types of treatment. The most effective is prolonged exposure to the feared situation. If you find a well-trained psychologist who uses cognitive-behavior therapy including exposure, she or he will create a list of your fears, going from least to most frightening. You will then practice exposing yourself to the least frightening until it no longer bothers you. You will then be ready to move to the next item on the list. Pretty soon you will be free of fears. Example; If you ride in an elevator for three hours- with a trusted friend if necessary- you will no longer be afraid of elevators.

The second type of treatment, which is less effective in the long run, is medications to reduce your anxiety. Both treatments may be combined for good results.

Seek treatment as soon as possible; this is a treatable condition, but the very anxiety that needs treatment is the anxiety that makes you afraid of treatment. The only thing you have to fear is fear itself. All the best!

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